Writing Center Reflection #2

Since I work at the Writing Center, it was definitely odd coming as the client instead of the consultant.  At the beginning of the semester, I went as well, but since I’ve grown as both a consultant and a student, it was a whole new experience.  I met with Alyssa-Rae, again, and we discussed my “Patrick Miles III vs. The Scuffs” re-write (since we talked about the original one in our first meeting).

I got to experience how Alyssa-Rae approached sessions with new eyes, as well, which was a learning experience.  She’s professional, but isn’t pretentious, arrogant, or condescending.  In fact, we had a lot of fun discussing my writing.  I told her about where I hoped to take the story, if I ever finished it, and what I wanted to happen to Patrick.  We discussed different approaches I could take to Patrick’s character.

I guess my favorite part about becoming the client at the Writing Center is talking about my work.  Since the environment is so friendly, I don’t feel as if my stories will be judged.  I do like discussing my work, although sometimes my fears of being inadequate prevent me from doing so.  Alyssa-Rae made me feel secure while we discussed Patrick, and I’m sure I’ll keep going to the Writing Center as both a consultant and a client.  I’m glad I got to experience it from the other side.

Adding in (Re# 5)

I was thinking about Patrick’s story and what I wrote so far, when I realized that something was missing!  Tammy, who I hope to include as an important character, was barely introduced.  I decided to provide her a proper introduction by dedicating a whole section to her.  It takes place before “Patrick Miles III vs. Jenga,” but I think it’s definitely necessary to help build both her and Patrick’s character.  Her reactions to Patrick’s friends will be a crucial part of the plot line.  Although I can’t state how it will turn out, her position will be one of a condescending attitude towards those with less privileges.  Patrick’s choice between her or his friends will ultimately decide the type of person he will turn out to be.

Of course, it can’t be just as easy as saying, “This is Tammy and she’s mean.”  If Patrick recognizes that off the bat, how can she effect him in any way?  Besides, I think the dynamics of Tammy and Art’s relationship will be quite interesting.  Since Patrick already has mixed feelings towards Art, will Tammy feed his hatred towards Art, or will her condescending tone make Patrick see the error of his ways?

An Innate Process (Re #4)

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to work on Patrick’s story in the past few weeks.  I’ve started a novel (an idea that I’ve had for a long time).  So far I don’t have as many words as I hoped I would by now, but it’s been a great experience.  I dove into the new character’s story, starting when he just began puberty.  It’s his own recall about his life and everything that led up to the dreadful consequence he’s suffering while he’s writing his memoir (although he takes it a bit too lightly originally).

It’s been odd just diving into this story without any fear of how well it’s written; actually, it’s been a relief.  Without the constant pressure to please any readers, I’ve let go and really settled into the story.  It all comes naturally; whatever happens next is organic.  Although I still wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, what I’ve written is beautiful (to me, at least).  The words possessed my fingers and molded the story on the page.  Even if it is awful so far, I’m surprised how freeing it’s been to forget about readers and just do it.

Lately, though, there has been something troubling me: Will I be able to finish it?  I’ve only finished one novel once (it had about 86,000 words), but the idea of leaving a piece that’s so important to me unfinished frightens me.  But, as Christoper Boone says, “I wrote a book and that means I can do anything” (Haddon, 222).

Molding (Re #3)

I originally wrote over 1,000 words for the next continuation, but after reading it again, I tossed it.  Something keeps blocking me from fully capturing Patrick’s voice.  Maybe it relates to the challenge of writing in first person, but I can’t seem to choose Patrick words.  I re-wrote it, straying away from my original idea.  In fact, I’m eliminating the moment where Patrick plays football with his floor-mates (or at least moving it).  Patrick’s phobias with dirt are quite crucial with the story (I’m not sure how yet, but they make up a huge part of Patrick’s life and create a wall between him and certain experiences), but I think I made them too dramatic in the first chapter.

To Patrick, his phobias are like any other person’s fears.  Sure, he might scrub himself pink and freak out before brushing his teeth in a dirty sink, but he believes his behavior is normal.  It adds to his almost delusional view of life.  Art, along with new characters (who I’ve been contemplating about adding) will add to Patrick’s transformation and act as guides.  How, though?–I won’t tell if you don’t ask (Actually, I have no idea–so don’t ask).

Anyway, I re-wrote this second section while working at the front desk of the Writing Center.  I’m currently sitting at the desk, surrounded by total silence (it’s just me and one other person).  So I figured it would be the perfect time to write.  The silence and complete concentration in the story definitely helped with writing it.  Before, I kept distracting myself and constantly struggled between Patrick’s voice and my own.  Although I’m still not thrilled about Patrick’s overall tone, it’s shaping into something.  I just need to practice first person more and polish him up…

(On a side note, November is “Write a Novel November”, so I’m taking the challenge and attempting to write 50,000 words by the end of November.  I’ll probably stick with Patrick’s story.  Wish me luck!)

The Rewrite (Re#2)

I normally re-write all of my stories, whether I stop halfway through the story and start again, or finish and then re-start.  I read over my Patrick Miles III posts and I found myself despising them.  They just weren’t up to par with what I’ve done in the past.  So, I re-wrote it.  I included most of what I said in the first two posts and added to it (like Patrick’s mild panic attack–which I’m still not sure if I like).  Thanks to this exercise, I’ve developed a better understanding for Patrick and how I want him to transform.

One key piece of his transformation is Artie “Art” Wagner, Patrick’s total opposite.  Unlike Patrick, Art’s completely comfortable with himself and doesn’t care about his appearance.  Also, he’s much more carefree and blunt.  Patrick has a tendency to deny his imperfections.  He figures his obsession to keep clean is completely normal, while most people don’t mind a little dirt on their skin.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen between the two yet and how Patrick will go from hating Art to actually appreciating his ideals, but it will happen.

I guess that’s what this exploration into Patrick’s mind is all about.  He’s definitely growing on me, as well.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, at first, but as I’m developing his voice, I’m starting to understand him more.  Hopefully, he continues to grow and develop and later on I’ll look back at the re-write and spot the ‘un-Patrick-like’ phrases.  Even now, I can think of a few things I want to change in the re-write, but I need to move on and continue to push myself.

I’ve decided to write at least 500 words a day, whether it’s Patrick’s story or another one.  I’ll try out different locations to find a place where I feel most comfortable.  So far, my favorite place to write is in my suite common room.  I wrote most of the re-write there (the story practically wrote itself at certain points).  Well, I guess we’ll see how Patrick’s story turns out!

Writing Center Reflection

I went to the W.C. once before last year (as a student meeting a consultant), but it was a short visit just to check that my paper was organized and that I proved my thesis clearly.  Now that I work there, it was a bit weird experiencing the W.C. from another point of view.  I’ve grown accustomed to the routine and the typical questions asked at the beginning of each session, so Alyssa-Rae Hug and I barreled through the typical introduction and dove straight into my piece.  I brought in the first Patrick Miles III draft.  It was definitely easier for me to read my piece out loud to a friend than a complete stranger.  We discussed how I could make certain aspects stronger, like how I could develop Patrick’s character.  That was really my over all issue: I wanted to make sure the Patrick I envisioned was the Patrick on paper.  And he wasn’t!  But I wrote the piece before I really decided who I wanted Patrick to be, so we discussed how I could spruce up his narrative to make his character more distinct.

Overall, it was really refreshing to get another view of my creative piece and talk about where I want to take Patrick.  I’m still a bit hazy on what exactly I want to happen to him, but I’m sure I’ll discover it along the way!  Alyssa-Rae was awesome, but I knew she would be.  Because I’ve observed her sessions and am attending Introduction to Creative Writing with her, I knew she was the person I’d turn to if I had questions.  She’s a great consultant who really understands the dynamics of writing and knows how to make a piece much stronger.  She was really enthusiastic to help me and was an overall pleasure to work with.

Now, I just have to revise my first draft and fix it up with some of her suggestions and my ideas in mind.  I’ll get around to it eventually (just not right now; I have too much to do).

The Beginning (Re #1)

Just a quick note: The ‘Re’ stands for ‘reflection’, which will be the section where I reflect how I approached writing this week’s section, how I felt about the completed version, and any other steps I took between. 

Let me start of by telling you I hate beginning stories.  It’s one of the most challenging steps for me, as the pressure on the introduction is immense.  A combination of the pressure and the fear of actually posting a creative piece really irked me all week.  I scoured for inspiration, hoping for that ‘Aha!’ moment to finally strike me, but it never did.  So, I had to force myself to write (and we all know how unsatisfying that can feel).  I sat down, pulled out my laptop, and just began to type.  It took me a few tries before I felt the least bit content about my first sentence.

‘I notice the scuff marks painted across my new dorm walls before anything else; not the room’s prison size, or the thin mattress, or even the horrible view, but the stains ruining the white walls.’

Is it a masterpiece?  Of course not.  Is it captivating and interesting?  I can’t say.  But asking myself these questions are so challenging, simply because I’m rarely impressed by my own work.  It certainly gives some insight on Patrick’s character, but is it enough?  Or is it too much?  I keep running this line, and the rest of the post, through my head.  Let’s see what I’ve managed to reveal:

  • he detests impurities.  Reader may question if he has OCD
  • he just moved into a new dorm.
  • it doesn’t sound like a pleasant atmosphere
  • he seems particular

I guess it’s not too much information, but I’m still questioning whether or not it’s a captivating first sentence.

The rest feels rushed.  Not that I wrote it too fast, but the story is choppy and doesn’t seem to flow well.  Maybe it’s because I set the story down multiple times over the past few days, hoping to pry some sort of ideas from my imagination, or maybe I’m just being super critical of my work.  But it seems my brain doesn’t want to cooperate with me this weekend.

Obviously, I’m not too impressed with what I posted, so I decided I’ll go back to it in a few weeks and re-edit it with ‘new eyes’.  By then, (hopefully) the usual yearning to write will flower again and I’ll produce a piece I can feel a bit more proud of.  That way, I can boost my confidence in my writing and myself.  After all, how can you write well if you constantly judge and question yourself?  But if you don’t, how will you write well?