Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing in the Headlights

I have a new favorite quote about writing:

"[Writing] is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."-E.L. Doctorow.

I experience this almost every time I write.  I sit down with a great idea in my head, thinking I know where the story is going, then as I sit down, the character does something, or says something and then bloop...I have a whole different story on my hands.  Sometimes I find this phenomenenon exhilirating.  Other times I find it exasperating.  Especially if I liked the first story better.  I guess an extremely gifted writer would wrangle the story back into submission and go with the original idea.  I, however, find it almost imperative to follow the new train of thought.  I've swerved to avoid a boulder in the darkness, and I want to follow the new path.

Take for instance my latest journey.  I sat down this week to write a story about gift-giving.  It was supposed to center around a young boy and a king.  Instead, I end up writing about a king who wears his clothes too big.  WHAAA?

Maybe I've got my headlights dimmed too low?

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