© Jack Remick and Robert J Ray
Bob sez: When you use a startline like – “Today I am writing a scene about….” you are writing about the writing you are about to write. You are writing a discovery piece, looking for shape, trajectory, arc, subject, maybe even character and core story.
When you use a startline like – “Today I am writing about my unfinished novel” – you are writing about the writing you have already done. Maybe you’re writing to find a pattern, a tunnel, a cluster of images. Maybe you are writing to find the end. Maybe you’re writing to start up after stalling out.
Writing about writing works – for whatever you need.
It’s mid-October in Seattle. Last Friday Jack wrote the piece below, using the startline: “Today I write about writing and the arc of revelation.” He’s writing about the process of writing his novel-in-progress. It’s called Gabriele Dominguez. It tells the story of a young girl, the Gabriela of the title, who survives a bloody raid in a South American jungle. It’s a coming of age story – Gabriela gets older as she escapes her mountain village, then travels north through Mexico – winding up in the house of an old woman in a California valley.
The old woman, La Viuda (viuda in Spanish means widow), hires Gabriela to help with her memories, fragments of her past trapped in photos and scraps of paper and her ageing brain.
As Jack read what he wrote, I was sitting across the table. From there, I could see clumps of words punctuated by little circular diagrams. As he wrote about Gabriela, Jack drew circle diagrams to focus the words. As the clock moves toward the thirty-minute bell, the diagrams grab more detail.
If you’re writing a long piece – novel, script, stage play, epic poem, or memoir – and you find yourself mired in your own words, try stepping back, away from the pages. Try writing about writing, see where it goes.
Heck, it’s your writing. Try a diagram…