Michaeline: Plans of mice and men and subconscious entities

A blue-and-white picture of a big iceberg that looks like a castle.

Short fiction is to icebergs as subtext is to ????. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I thought it would be funny as hell if for this week’s post I put up that picture of an iceberg, write the single sentence, “I’ve been experimenting with the short form these days,” and leave it up to you guys to make up the rest of the post. But alas, conscience doth make cowards of us all.

Fortunately, the girls in my basement rescued me with a new theme for this week’s post. Everyone’s talking about planning, and I have nothing against planning. I love planning, and have been creating grandiose schemes almost from the moment I grasped the concept of grandiose schemes. But planning is only the tip of the iceberg.

I think it’s important. It puts your creative troops (Girls in the Basement, Bats in the Attic, whoever you work with in your brain) on notice that this is the way you want to go.

I don’t know about you, but I find my Girls eager to please for the most part. But the strangest thing is that even though they live in the same brain that I do . . . they are not psychic!  They often fill the letter of the request, but sometimes miss completely the essential nuance. And I’m sure they have a lot of complaints about me – nonverbal grunting with lots of obscene hand gestures indicating that I simply can’t be pleased.

Case in point: recently I asked to remember my dreams. And my Girls kindly woke me up before my alarm went off to remember . . . some dreams that weren’t very helpful for solving my plot problems. I should have written them down; I would have at least gotten a longer blog post from them. But the dreams were basically about some decisions I’d made in my day job. Very much, “Yeah, boss, right boss. You are on the right track, boss.” It’s almost as though they don’t trust me . . . . “Leave us alone, boss. We’ll send something up when we’re good and ready.”

So while I say that planning puts the creative troops on notice, I find I have to be really careful about what I’m ordering them to do. If I ask for too much, they seem to go into depressive shock. If I ask for too little, they feel like I don’t take them seriously, or something. And if I bore them? Oh man. Sit-down strike.

I think I need a new sort of planning. Every time I sit down and say, “OK, I’m going to write 500 words!” I can feel  eyes rolling in the back of my brain, so hard they make little glass-marble noises on the Basement floor.

Perhaps, I need to order less, and follow more. They know what I want (I keep asking for the same damn thing every time). Maybe it’s time for me to learn more about what they want.

I think I’m going to try and phrase my targets in a new way. Maybe I’ll try time at the computer (although this hasn’t worked very well for me). Maybe I’ll ask them, “So, what exactly happens in this scene? What’s new and fun?” I’ll try that, and I’ll try adding some “please” and “thank-you” to my writing sessions, too. They really are charming Girls and come up with some awfully fun things to occupy my time. Underneath the surface, there’s a whole lot of iceberg there to explore in order to support the tiny bit that we see up on top. Thank you, Girls! Now, back to my WIP.

A ship sailing amongst a sea of icebergs

The trick is to make it look like smooth sailing, without actually crashing into the ice below. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

2 thoughts on “Michaeline: Plans of mice and men and subconscious entities

  1. Since I’m an overplanner, I rarely sit in front of the screen wondering what should come next. How it should be written and whether it can accomplish the goals I have for the scene are another matter. Using the definition of scene as ‘a unit of conflict’, knowing the protag/antag/core conflict are absolutely necessary for me to get started. You seem to be more of a pantser/intuitive writer so our brains work in different ways, but maybe when asking your Girls questions, you can ask them about the goal/conflict as part of the writing prompt for each scene. (Assvice given with all appropriate caveats: MHO, YMMV, many roads to Oz, etc., etc. :-)).

    • I think that’s good advice, particularly when one is stuck. In fact, I’ve been asking “Why is this character here, in this scene, and in this book?” I get plot reasons back pretty fast, but apparently the Girls are still working through the motivations. I seem to be rejecting the really harsh motivations (because they would result in the Villain lashing out immediately and at full power, bringing a very quick end to a story with a lot of other elements that I want to explore). I guess the “Why?” changes then, from why is she here to why is she holding back at first?

      One step at a time, I guess. I ike it when the plan comes all together and I can write in a fast, sharp burst of energy.

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