So I had another insight today about my writing. Some dots finally getting connected. Still working on how to operationalize this, but here goes...
I've talked more than once about the fact that I'm not a linear, inductive thinker. Most of you out there are, to varying degrees. It's how most things are organized, and what most people strive for. It's A + B + C, therefore D thinking. "I see water drops falling and wet stuff around me -- hey it's raining." It's looking at the evidence and then coming to a conclusion. Things like that.
I can't do that. It's not in me. When I try, I get more confused and, honestly, I get ill.
My brain starts at the end: D. I may or may not always not the A, the B, or the C. "It's raining! Oh crap, why am I getting wet?" I tend to intuit conclusions and then have to figure out how to marshal the evidence and/or explain my steps.
Sometimes this is very handy. It means I'm a good problem solver. It means I can look really smart because it appears that I think quickly. It means that I can operate comfortably in big pictures. It also means that I'm free to see obscure connections between things because I don't have to start with the smaller, logical connections.
Sometimes this way of thinking is a pain in the butt. It means I'm terrible at following and giving step-by-step instructions. It means I can look really dumb because I can know the right answer but be incapable of explaining how I know it. I means that I often don't see details, and typically don't know what to do with them when I do see them. It means I miss the obvious connections, and the ordinary way of operations.
I've known this about myself for a while. What I didn't know is how it related to my writing.
A little while back, we were having a conversation on here about literary vs. experimental fiction. In the context of that, Michelle and I exchanged a few comments about how personal one of my stories in the upcoming Genre Wares anthology is.
In the same conversation, I was wondering if I needed to focus on more literary, quasi-experimental fiction because it's where I had success. Most of you encouraged me to not stop writing what I like to write, but I was still bothered by the difference between what I've had success writing and what I've not.
Today I figured it out. At least in large part. The stories that ended up in Genre Wars are both quite personal, as was the story I referenced which did well in a college writing contest.
That seems an obvious ingredient of great writing, but I haven't been able to figure out why they were more personal than other things I've written which draw equally on my own emotions, relationships, and experiences.
Today the dots got connected.
I wrote those stories in a semi-experimental way, so I was a lot freer with my form. I wasn't constrained by logical story-telling constructions. Don't get me wrong; they're coherent stories. But because they were literary and experimental, I wasn't worried about A, then B, then C.
In fact, in all three cases I started with a concept of the story as a whole and then just sort of worked it out in words.
In other words, those were stories that I allowed myself to write the way my brain works. They were personal not just because of the content but because of the manner in which they were crafted. The writing was good, in part, because it was done in the way I'm geared rather than the way I try to be.
It probably sounds silly, but I cannot tell you how exciting and liberating this realization is.
I'll leave it at that for now. It'll be interested to see where I go from here from things I'm working on.