Monday, July 30, 2012

Perception and Pancakes

The other morning started out like every other morning Chez Garth. I was making pancakes. The kids were taking WAY too long to come downstairs. Child #2 came down first. He was grumpy, which is not unusual because he's always grumpy before he eats breakfast.

I handed him a plate of pancakes and then, as I opened up a new bottle of syrup and poured a little bit on, I made a rookie parenting mistake. With one finger I sampled the syrup and said, "Huh, that tastes different."

"Different how? What do you mean?" he said poking his pancake with his fork and looking at it like it might bite him instead of the other way around.

Realizing my error I backtracked. "Not different at all. It's delicious. It tastes exactly like our ordinary syrup."

He took one suspicious bite, chewed a minute and then spit it out onto the plate. "I can't eat this," he said (and he actually threw up his hands in disgust). "This is awful. It tastes like throw-up. I think I'd like jam instead."

"Okay, Paddington Bear," I said as I dumped his pancake into the compost bin.

He was lucky because he caught me on a patient morning. Maybe the reason I was feeling patient is because I've been struggling with some of my own perceptions and I'm fresh from the realization of the power those perceptions hold.

My writing process is usually linear. I start at the beginning and work my way through to the bitter end. I've always done it that way and because that's the way I've always worked I didn't think any other way would work as well.

But suddenly, with this WIP, I'm hopping all over the place. I wrote the beginning and then several scenes in the middle and now I'm back to the beginning. It's a weird way for me to work. Like new syrup, it's different. Unlike new syrup, I suppose time is the only thing that will tell if the end result is delicious.


Shell Flower said...

You should check out K.M.Weiland's blog. She just wrote about this exact thing the other day. Sometimes things aren't always linear.

Carol Kilgore said...

You'll have to let us know. I'm linear, too. Except with my WIP, I have a solid timeline. I used it to let me jump ahead when I'd gotten a little offtrack with everything I needed to include in an earlier scene. I'll have to fill that part in when I go back on second draft. I'm liking the way that's working out. Without the timeline, I would have been stuck for days trying to unravel everything.

Beylit said...

I've never been a linear writer, I always tend to start in the middle and work backwards and then jump to the beginning and work forward to meet the middle, and then write the end, and then go back to the middle to find the end. It makes for making things flow a little difficult sometimes, but it is the only way I know how to write.

And I am sad to say I was much like child #2 growing up. My mother had the patience of a saint I swear.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Pancake abuse!
Write whatever way is working for you.

Barbara Watson said...

I love knowing that there is no right way. What works, works.

Emily R. King said...

Great post! I write linear as well, but that doesn't always work. You have to go with your gut. If that means hopping around, do it!

Anne Gallagher said...

I've found that sometimes you just have to write the way your brain tells you too.

I made the same mistake with ketchup not too long ago. Before Monster even tried it, she looked at the label and said, "This isn't our regular ketchup. I don't think I want it."


Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

You threw out the pancakes??????????? WTF, Joanne, I could have taken those beauties off your hands!
(I know.. never say anything tastes funny around kids. What's different about the log cabin syrup anyway?)

Glad to hear you're trying different writing methods. Whatever works, works. It's fun to try new things. Especially syrupy things...

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Not Joanne.. sigh.. JOHANNA.

Katie O'Sullivan said...

I'm glad to hear my kids aren't the only ones who do this to their mom...

Angela Cothran said...

I started laughing when you wrote "rookie mistake", but I was laughing with you :)

Sometime changing how I write helps me out of a bad slump. Good luck with your WIP :)

T. L. Cooper said...

I, too, tend to write linear, so when I get off that track it can be a bit disconcerting. You have to go where the work takes you. And, if that means breaking a pattern, a routine, your comfort zone - then break it proudly!! :-)

Joanne Noragon said...

Interesting metaphore. If #2 had been a grandchild of my mother, spending an old-fashioned summer at grandma's, she would have said "Don't taste it just eat it." Which I suppose is the metaphore for the linear approach.

Connie J Jasperson said...

I am absolutely all about A: forcing children to eat horrible, yucky pancakes and B: Jumping all over when I am writng the first draft and then sticking all the chunks together with 'story-glue'.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Oh man, that was a rookie mistake! Lol. I'm pretty linear but I do get scenes in my head and they may be way ahead but when I try to write them it isn't always easy and I have to put it off until the writing is to that point. Good luck on the new WIP!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Good luck with your out-of-sequence drafting process! Every manuscript teaches us something different. :D

Anonymous said...

write hopping I just over can't all. just too I'm linear. pancakes And gave up he on? can't do I that.

(I just can't write hopping all over. I'm just too linear. And he gave up on pancakes? I can't do that.)

Johanna Garth said...

Shell, thanks for the head's up.

Carol, will report back when it's finished.

Beylit, I'm psyched that I'm up for sainthood ;)

Alex, that's an LOL.

Barbara, so true. No right way.

Emily, hopefully I won't end up with a mess.

Anne, see total rookie move.

Cathy, LOL, and next time I'll send them your way.

Katie, so good not to be alone on that front, right!

Angela, I hope it works.

TL, Love that phrase. I'm breaking it proudly!

Joanne, I'm absolutely going to use that line.

Connie, will you come by and help me whip him into shape?

Thanks Jenny.

Dianne, I hope it works!

Josh, you're comment made me laugh, which I needed, so thanks!

Kristen Wixted said...

I write like that, hopping all over the place, usually. It's kinda torture. But I'm finding each story has it's own way into the world.

Wow. That was deep for me. Phew.
Exhausted now.

Kelley Lynn said...

Hello *waves* I found you from Miss Cassie's blog :) So happy to join the party! :)

I've always been linear. I think I do that to force myself to write the 'not so fun stuff' (namely, the middle) and tease myself with the great climax and ending. It's like a gift to myself when I get there ;)

Tonja said...

Sometimes I write out of sequence. I think it makes for more revisions later, but it's more fun while I'm doing it.

As for pancakes, we dip ours in unsweetened applesauce. My tiny person has a reaction to sugar that makes his personality unpleasant (I am being kind). We don't own syrup.

Chuck said...

Here is new tip for topping a stack of pancakes or waffles or even ice agave nectar! I am addicted.

Alison DeLuca said...

I have a glue-y unravelly story on the back burner (along with the pancakes) right now, after decades of being a linear gal.

Losing Beauty is such a gem, and I don't think it matters how you write your books - I just know they will be fantastic. Because you have that "it" factor, girlfriend.

And compost - YAY!

Joyful Minimalism said...

LOL your pancake story reminds me of my dad. He was eating his potatoes and said: they taste strange but good. I said: yeah, fried them with garlic. He pulled a face, said he hated garlic, stood up and threw the potatoes away :D

and yay! another non-linear writer!

Now I use Scrivener, I can't believe how much fun it is to not write linear anymore :) I never did like plotting, but with this book I do too. :D It gave my writing a whole new playful angle that makes it all the more joy to just sit down and write like the wind :)

PS seconding the suggestion for agave syrup, it is SO delicious!