We liked our last amaryllis so much that I bought a
set of three bulbs when the orange one faded. The instructions said if I
planted the bulbs together in a twelve-inch pot, they would produce a “tapestry
of color.” That’s not going to happen. They’re blooming one at a time, which
gives us a longer time with flowers – just no tapestry. The first one to open
was a variegated raspberry and white.
a recent book event, my husband asked the author which part of her writing
process was creativity and which part was craft. The poor woman looked startled
then said the two were so intertwined that they could not be separated.
science, creativity and craft are more easily distinguishable. The creative
parts involve identifying interesting problems and figuring out which questions
to ask so that a correct answer can be found. Craft comes into play when executing
the experiment. Years of practice are often required to produce interpretable
me, writing is a mixture of creativity and craft. Figuring out what story to
write, deducing the best way to tell it, and asking probing questions about my
characters and their quests are all creative endeavors. The process of getting
the story down for the first time is mostly unbridled creativity. Revision,
however, is not exclusively craft. Seemingly, years of practice are often
required to produce a clearly written manuscript. But a manuscript that is merely
technically adept will not sell. Readers are looking for heart in a novel, characters
they can identify with, and situations that are both real and unique. Breathing
life into the novel is the creative part of revisions.
I've spotted a few red-winged blackbirds, the
chipmunks have been sunning themselves on the front steps, and the snow has
started to melt. Today, my husband noticed green shoots in the backyard. Last
fall I planted bulbs. In an attempt to thwart our abundant burrowing creatures,
I covered most of the bulbs with hardware cloth. Apparently my strategy worked
because the ipheion were sprouting through the hardware cloth. Today, although
the temperature is 21oF and much of the yard is still under snow, I
started gardening. I removed all of hardware cloth I could find. (Some is still
buried under snow.) The ipheion are coming up like gangbusters, the anemones
have pink shoots, and the chionodoxa are sprouting. I saw no signs yet of the
scilla or the bluebells, but the snowdrops are blooming.
The lives of
most characters revolve around the school/work week or the seasons – depending on
the genre. I like to use a calendar as a revision tool. I draw a grid and label
it with the days of the week and the names of the months, scaling it to the
time span of my novel. I note major plot events on the appropriate spaces.
current project, timing is particularly important because my protagonist is a
potter. My initial estimates of the time required to throw, dry, fire, glaze
and re-fire pottery were too short. After I adjusted the pottery schedule, I
noticed other time-related issues. Some events happened too quickly, while
others were unrealistically delayed.
provides a simplified view of a novel on a single page. I can trace the narrative
arc without getting bogged down in details. A calendar is also a useful tool
for tracking pacing. I can easily see how many events happen on a given day and
how much time elapses between events.
in San Diego so my husband can attend an editorial meeting for a scientific
journal. We met another editor in the lobby of the hotel. This man looks just
like Santa Claus, except that he doesn’t always wear red. He’s also smart and
funny like I imagine Santa would be.
can, perhaps, all agree that many manuscripts are submitted before they’re
ready, and part of the job of any editor is to reject submissions. This morning, Santa told us that at a previous
meeting, he was accused of being mean because he’d rejected the largest
percentage of submissions of all the editors.