I’ve been going over the last few chapters I wrote by hand. Ink pen, by a picture window, sunlight pouring in. For some reason, with some projects, this works when I’m trying to make things real. It doesn’t finish the process by any means, but when I take the time to break my paragraphs down and rewrite them in longhand, it seems to draw me into the world I’m describing. Word choice becomes more precise because, dammit, it’s actually difficult to write this way, physically. I never recall as a kid getting tired of writing with a pen (although I’m sure I must have when I got stuck with one of those godawful punishments “you will write a hundred time ‘I will not be contrary to the teacher’s arbitrariness.”) but I do now.
When I get done with this part, I bring everything back to the computer and start entering the corrections, which then trigger other corrections and reimaginings. I’ve solve a couple of plot points this way.
And, of course, when the whole book is done, I print it out for Donna to hack to bits and this she does by hand with a red ink pen. It all starts over, but by that point I have a coherent narrative and all this is just making if live and breathe.
What gets fascinating sometimes is to be working on a description—for instance, my hero is fleeing for his life just now across the surface of the moon (yes, our moon, which is a place I never thought I’d set any of my fiction, because the moon had been used to the point of cliche so long ago, but there it is) and I have to place him visually in situ. This demands a peculiar kind of attention. I must put myself there and describe how it is. Which is, in some ways, impossible—I’ve never been there—but we do it all the time. I do, anyway. You gather enough information about your locale or what have you and then distill it into a kind of gestalt that stands for direct experience.
This is art.
When you do it right, people will be just as drawn into it—hopefully with considerably less effort—the way you were in the process of constructing it.
This is art.
Seeing. Making others see. And feel, that’s there, too. Coming away at the end with the perception of having been somewhere new.
You get the idea.