Saturday, June 9, 2012

Being Michelangelo

Today Taliesin and I were discussing our impending doom, aka how in just ten days we have to begin writing our novels. After I read a Frankenstein analogy retweeted by Jenny, we got to talking about the steps to creating a novel and came up with our own analogy: Being Michelangelo. I've never been much of a sculptor, but I know what it's like to turn a rough sketch into a finished drawing. But Taliesin mentioned chiseling out a statue and I found it fitting because, a perfect slab of marble looks pretty (the swirly mist stage where you haven't made any firm decisions and your idea looks great), then you have to make it all ugly by breaking into it (the decisions), then you start seeing a human figure but it's all wonky and ugly (the first draft), then it improves (the following drafts) and so forth until hopefully you've polished it so well you're left with your masterpiece. Even Michelangelo has to make a crappy statue before he makes a perfect statue.

This should have already been obvious to me, but for some reason imagining it out is helping me cope with my feelings of "ruining" my pristine marble slab by hitting it with those initial hammer strokes, cutting away the areas I won't need when I start the first draft of the body. It's giving me new courage.


  1. I'm going to have to keep these ideas at the forefront of my mind while I'm writing this. It'll be hard enough just getting to the end, never mind the drafting stage. I've sort of done it with research papers, although I never really left myself enough time on those to make the second draft particularly distinct from the first; the only changes were cosmetic and technical. Once the paper was written, none of the essential features of the paper were altered.

    This novel will be very different. I don't have a deadline to finish it by, and my GPA does not depend on my finishing. I can't just crank it out and say "good enough." I have to slog through it, finish it, and then after a month or two, take a look at it with fresh eyes. But first I have to complete it. The number of stories I didn't finish because I lost interest or because I became disgusted with how it was developing, how everything seemed to be going "wrong," is... well, damn near everything I've written. Actually, I think I have only completed one story, and that was a short story fan work, and the only reason I finished that and got it published, ironically enough, is because I did give myself a deadline to finish it by. I hammered it out in a single day, and published it as soon as I was finished. It wasn't a terribly well thought out story, but I liked it, and it had heart, and it was fairly well written, which was enough to get it a few good reviews. It was just a quick and dirty one shot, and yet it turned out fairly well for all that.

    I must learn from that example, and realize that even if something doesn't seem particularly good while I'm doing it, if I keep at it, and get the general shape of it out, I'll be able to slowly chisel it down and get the quality.

    Reading this and thinking about it is giving me new courage as well. Let's both do something awesome.

    1. Yep, here's to first aiming for the general shape of something awesome and knowing that the rest of the awesome will follow, haha!

  2. Yes! I keep having to remind myself of that as well. I tend toward perfectionism, so first drafts can be discouraging if I don't keep in mind that they can be fixed later.