Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ideas Are Easy . . .


In his book, Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future, Cory Doctorow writes a lot about all of the above.

I skimmed a fair bit of it because I'm trying to get as much done on my own book as I can before I take off next week.

But a couple of sentences in his essay on fan fiction caught my eye and made me cut and paste them here.

He said, "Ideas are easy. Execution is hard."

And I thought, oh, yes. And then, speaking from mid-book, I said it again even louder, OH, YES!

He goes on to explain, "That's why writers don't really get excited when they're approached by people with great ideas for novels. We've all got more ideas than we can use -- what we lack is the cohesive whole."

Amen. (Picture me leading the nuns in Lilies of the Field in a rousing chorus of them.)

I've written before about the age old question, "Where do you get your ideas?" from non-writers who think that it's the ideas that are hard to come by.

As Cory Doctorow says, they're not.

What's hard to come by is that cohesive whole.

It's getting from here to The End without falling into the abyss or getting eaten by dragons or sidetracked by brown cows with blue eyes or secondary characters who are way more interesting and fun and energetic (waving to Anne Gracie!) that is the real trick.

I'm wading around in chapter four right now. I can't see the beginning from here -- too far back. I can't begin to see the end. There are a whole lot of bends in the road before The End is likely to come in sight.

I'm knee-deep in the mud of the first draft, and trying to envision the cohesive whole is like trying to walk through it for the next six miles holding jello in my bare hands and expecting to have anything left of the jello at the end.

Not easy.

Thanks, Cory, for reminding me of what it is I'm trying to do -- and why it gets frustrating. I'm just going on, trusting the process -- and my characters -- and myself. And hoping we get there with story at the end.

Check out Content. Guaranteed food for thought.

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