Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Legal Pad of Last Resort

Yesterday, shortly before heading off to the terrible class, I realized that during the notebook-musical-chairs I played for the Writing Marathon, I'd forgotten to replace the one I'd take out of my bag. Ergo, no notebook to write in during class. Desperate, I grabbed a legal pad from the office to borrow that night.

I got to class, pulled out my legal pad, and blanked. I didn't want to write to Camii on this horrible yellow paper, so that meant a story. But, what story? I figured since I was breaking my routine anyhow, I'd just start someplace and go from there.

A while back I was talking about how writing is solving problems, you go through and answer questions. Last night I had to ask them first. I have a man and woman who have a close relationship, but what kind is it? He makes a special gesture to her, but why? How long have they known each other? Why are they so close? And on it goes. Sometimes you add the details first, and figure out what they mean second. This was one of those stories.

Now I've got almost two full legal pad pages, and I've figured out where it's going. Turns out, this isn't a thesis story. That happened totally by accident, I kept looking for ways to make it one and it started out with a thesis story idea (heck, have you ever kept track of how often roses pop up in fairy tales?) but it just didn't want to go there. Still, I think I can be okay with that. If only I could get out of my title slump and stop naming things "The __ Story."

Stephen King is fond of legal pads, but I don't know why. Not having margins to write notes in makes things more difficult than they ought to be. Here's a picture of my legal pad (note that the camera is pulled back to reveal the chaos that is my desk, and this is the "tidy" side, too).

Do any of you ever use legal pads? Got any good accident/change-of-pace stories?


-John said...

Brilliant! There is something about being given a glimpse into where creative magic happens.

Truly, does it matter where you write ideas down, as long as you write them down?

Jenny said...

Right now I'm finishing FJR on a legal pad...ironically enough because of the lack of margins. I can put more on a page and that makes me feel more satisfied. Like a Snickers bar.

I know what you mean, John. I feel all voyeuristic when I look at another writer's space/bookshelves but I can't help myself.