Tag: writing organically versus using outlines

Using My “Other Life” for Fictional Inspiration

dried carrots

This week in my other life:

Blimps racing decrepit planes to get to a family compound in Louisiana full of surly “relatives” of Philip’s.  Black cats everywhere and also Penny.  One especially angry “relative” continually questioning me about everything, completely hostile.  Nothing has changed for 5o years.  Hard to believe there’s good corn out there in the fields.

An apartment building stacked impossibly high with stairs leading right up into each other at moments.  Opened door to Max’s room only to find two young boys making out in their underwear, neither of whom were Max.  Was doing something on the tiny deck lying down, trying to grab something or fix something, just as I roll and scootch my way back inside the door comes apart and I realize it’s because the deck is now disconnected by about a foot from the building.  Not sure what’s holding it up.  I go to report this.  I end up on the street with Philip who is introducing me to his fundamentalist Christian bosses who also live in the building and he’s indicating to me that I should imply we’re also conservative and I realize that not a piece of my skin is showing aside from my face.  I realize that our building is full of different flavors of fundamentalists and don’t know how I didn’t notice before.  I continue the charade wondering just how long I can keep it up, being ME.  We enter a gym-like room at the base of the apartment building.

There’s something that happened before that is now connecting up.  There was work at the base of the building.  My scooter – an expert said it needed work and took it apart and I couldn’t leave.  Someone in the vast downstairs complex was flirting dreadfully with scooter fixing man.  So back to the gym – I was taking notes and maybe even gambling.  As I exited the gym to head back home (which I never did) I peeked into the apartment of the fundamentalist bosses and the woman has taken off her  habit-like head-gear and underneath her whole head is bandaged up like her head will fall apart if she doesn’t tape a bunch of padded  bandage around it.

There’s some other business I’m supposed to be dealing with from earlier in my dream.  Only now I’m not married and have no child.  I’m in my early twenties.  I have to go find someone and so I’m riding my bicycle and other cyclists whizz by me and finally I get to a big brick building and start climbing some stairs.  I’m all dressed up in heels and know that they (whoever they are) is not expecting me – and doesn’t know I don’t always looked scraggly.  A guy comes out the door at the top of the stairs and I start saying that I know they probably won’t use the stuff I dropped off and I’m here to pick it up and I’m apologizing but he cuts across it to tell me SHE has used my seeds and plants and I can check on them.  I know he’s looking at my shoes and suddenly I feel self conscious.

I don’t know the rest.  It all evaporated too quickly.

I want to start writing the details of my dreams down the minute I wake up.  If nothing else I feel the seeds of fiction in them.  What is terror or strange and memorable in them would make for good stories.  Never in entirety since dreams don’t work that way.  But I do often feel I’ve just lived a whole wild narration in my sleep.  I enjoy trying to get some of it down because sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s creepy but it’s nearly always something for me to chew on.  Images that are sharp and if I can get them in writing they don’t fade away – I don’t have to lose them.

I think that strange primordial soup that dreams are is where poetry comes from.  I want more of that in my fictional work.

I would like to write some fiction today.  I have had so little time and so little brain space for it as I’ve been struggling with many other things that need dealing with.  Today I don’t have much paid work to do as I opted to work a long day yesterday.  Chapter one of the second book of Cricket and Grey awaits.

One other fiction related thought I’ve had in my head that I’d love to hear other writers weigh in on: do you write organically, just seeing where the story takes you?  Or do you work with an outline and know exactly where the story is going and what each chapter is going to contain?  Or are you somewhere in between?  I want to know how others do it.

I’ve done it both ways.  I wrote Jane Doe organically and let it take me where it wanted to go which was into a ditch of impossibility and also, sadly, stupidity.  No, that’s being too harsh.  It tried to be two things that don’t mix.  Three or four years later and the core story still haunts me but I can’t figure out how to make it work.  Then I wrote Cricket and Grey using an outline and doing a character analysis for each character and wrote it from beginning to end with 4 major rewrites in two years.  Completed book.  So it seems that outlines and planning work best for me but I’m attracted to writing organically again.

If you have thoughts on this, please share!