“Did you ever start a piece of writing and forget about it, only to be surprised when you found it and read it?”
I asked this question because several things rather caught me off-guard when I started writing longer stories.
I had written lyrics, articles and poems which had been read and published. I wrote small stories when I was a kid and sometimes bound them with stiff or construction paper and yarn, which generally impressed teachers, but…
when I wanted to write stories that involved scenes and characters, several things surprised me.
One was that stories came so quickly when they occurred to me. Once the “What ifs” come to mind, the rest of the general storyline almost always falls into place, as do the scenes.
Another surprise, no, SHOCK, was when the characters had minds of their own. Some haven’t cooperated. Many have taken off and done their own thing. Some have solved mysteries or have had ideas that I thought other characters would figure out.
Some end up better than I had planned, some not as good as I had preconceived.
As I have pondered this, I can’t help but wonder if that is why some writers get ‘blocked’. If I get stopped or things aren’t flowing, rereading what I have written on the piece gets it up and running again. I wonder if the people who have too many totally fixed ideas of what their characters are supposed to do are trying to MAKE them do what they had planned, and it’s not working, or perhaps I should say, the characters won’t play ball. They will tell the writer, not vice versa.
Crazy, I know, but at that point, a writer either has to let them do their thing, let them dropout, or cut them back to become lesser characters. No sense in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
But let’s get to this week’s idea: finding something that I did not remember writing.
I generally write in a linear timeline, but sometimes scenes occur to me and I will put them down, only to rewrite them later into the body of the work, then I will find the original scene some time later. As at least Patty-the-Monday-Fox mentioned, the choice then is to weigh which is better suited to the body of the work.
However, I have run across scenes in my files that I simply do not remember writing.
I sometimes have a vague memory of wanting to write a story like it, or sometimes I will think, “Oh, this must be for the story about…” , one that has sneaked into my head but I haven’t given much time to,(mainly because I haven’t totally finished others).
But I have no memory of writing some of the scenes. I will start reading and think, “This is good, but why is it here, what is it from and who is it by?, only to realize after a while that yes, it’s mine. It fits into a story that I did not remember even attempting to write, but after a while I can tell that it is my work,
even if it seems to be too good to have come from me.
It can be too good to have come from my head.
Coincidentally, a former guest posted a week or so ago on Facebook, (months after this topic occurred to me): “What happens to our brains when we write?”
Few weighed in. I could only comment about WHAT has happened to me. I have no idea WHY or HOW I have had too many characters take on lives of their own, and write their own dialogue, will not go or say what I want, or sneak in where they were not invited.
I used to wonder out loud how some of the seemingly sweetest people could write about bloody murder and the murderers who bloodily commit them, how middle-class women from the American suburbs could write perfectly believable, snarkily funny ghetto street walkers, how retired grandfathers can write realistic dialogue for young female characters, how writers can get right into characters which they could have no real experience . I still don’t know HOW, but I know that it DOES…it just does all come to writer’s mind.
Do you have any theories as to how this happens?