Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kiki: And then it just came together...

Over the past ten years, I've learned that my writing process takes an incredible amount of revision and has to take place over time. It can be summed up as "write early, revise often." It took a long time to figure this out, and I've fought it every step of the way.  It's not easy to accept that you aren't like Mozart, composing a perfect piece without corrections on your manuscript.  But with every year it becomes more obvious, and I am slowly growing to accept that this is the nature of my creative process - for just about everything, really.

With this process in mind, I set my summer dissertating plan: get this chapter out by the end of June (today), the next completed by the end of July, and the final chapter drafted by the end of August. These deadlines are my own, both for the sake of practicality and process.  And they're not easy, but they don't belong to anyone else.

This week, my most important writing goal was to get a chapter draft off my desktop and out to my advisor. All the pieces were in place, and on Monday morning I started working through the sections to clean them up, smooth the transitions, pick up on themes and unifying concepts. After a full day of revising this way, on Monday evening I stopped with two sections left to fix up. These two sections needed a fair bit of work, and I fully expected to work all the way through until the end of the day to get the chapter out on time.

Today those became so much stronger - right in front of me was a unifying theme ("thresholds") that I had somehow subconsciously noticed some months ago when I slapped a working title onto the project that included the word "liminal." And yet, it didn't click until now. Suddenly, in working through the last section with the tone of a conclusion it hit me: in each of the paintings, there is a recognizable and incontrovertible threshold. A door, a moongate, the entrance to a cave, an open window onto the scene, something to be crossed over that let the viewer in to participate. And then there was another aspect, a "pause" or "hesitation" in separating reality from illusion, and somehow back in the winter I had taken down a structuralist literary theory that supported this moment.  It just came together - I could barely type fast enough to get it all down before it disappeared. It was incredible!

I am proud to say that by 3 p.m. this afternoon, I sent my chapter out the door.  To celebrate, I kicked off early and arrived home just in time to make iced chocolate when Darcy surprised me by coming home early too.  Iced chocolates in hand, we sat in the garden on beanbags and picnic blankets, sipping our drinks in the shade and chatting for two full hours, celebrating this minor milestone just by being together in that moment.

Tomorrow, I'll start in on my other goals for the week - all without reading. I miss reading your posts!

Hope your writing goals are progressing smoothly along, and that your celebrations are as sweet as mine!


  1. Awesome, Kiki!!!

    Sounds you had the perfect reward for all that hard work. It's such a great feeling when all the pieces our subconscious has been gathering actually start to become visible themes we can work with.

    Loved reading this post about your process. It's so reassuring that I'm not the only one who isn't a Mozart--my name is Revisionista after all :)

    Enjoy your day!

  2. Congratulations! It's such a great feeling when the pieces fall together after all the hard work! I bet you feel so light and happy.

    Yes, I'm not Mozart either; and my writing process takes sooooo much longer than my impatience would like to. This is one of the reasons why I find it hard to write when I'm so busy at work and between so many and constant deadlines. I just cannot sit and write for half an hour (write something decent in that half an hour) and change task. Just can't. I'll have to find different ways (that I still haven't figure out; I accept suggestions :) )