Stitching and Sewing and Mashing a Story

The other night, and I'd said I would, I finally sat down and collected all the strands and pages and scribbles of my story, and mashed them all together.

Well, mashed, or stitched.

I've been thinking about which term works. One certainly sounds nicer. Ah, the stitching of a story. It seems calm, collected, graceful, even beautiful. Mashed certainly has a rougher sound. Like cramming all the words in to a too-old suitcase right before a holiday, and puffing and swearing until finally I make them fit, and sit, exhausted, on top of the bulging heap.

How does writing work?

In truth it's probably a mixture of both, and then some.

Me, t'other night, being mad word-alchemist, as lightning cracked the (largely metaphorical) sky

Though there are as many different writing styles as there are writers, for me books always have a 'hump' - a point after which it suddenly all makes sense, finally. Things come together - whether crashing and moaning or fitting perfectly, like cogs - and suddenly, instead of pages of things that happen, I have a story.

Imagine a hot air balloon, deflated. It's been built - the basket woven and hammered, the balloon itself stitched and pressed, the engine wired and oiled and filled - but if it's lying in a field, it's not much to look at. That thing's going to fly? Looks more like it's going to ... hurple. 

Then, it fills, and it folds out, and takes shape, and the crowd goes, 'Ohhhh. I see. Right. Marvelous. Um. It goes quite high, then...?'

So now the end is (almost) in sight. The story even has a denouement, if I can get away with using such an unnecessarily pretentious word...

So, stitching or mashing? Is the book going to be finely crafted or hammered into submission, then dragged bleeding, to the press? It is going to be like a load of cogs that purr, or a groaning, lumbering hulk?

Yes, probably. That's a suitably annoying answer, but I'm a writer - I don't deal in straight answers. I think in the end writing is about making words do what you want them to. At times, that means being tyrannical, killing your darlings, and letting the Editor's Red Pen of Doom bloody the book up a bit. At times it means being frightfully clever and making the words dance and play and do all sorts of brilliant things that are probably overly-complicated, but fun all the same.

And still the world turns, and the book grows ever longer.

That's the most important thing of all.

No comments:

Post a Comment