So I’m playing back yesterday’s episode of Oprah with James Frey. Definitely an interesting discussion between them both and as a fellow writer I can understand how one decision sparked by pressure from the powers that be, spiraled out of control and the dung came flowing down on top of his head. I still think it’s unfair that not one of them (the powers to be) came out and said, “yeah, he queried it as fiction but WE thought, hey, it’s so gritty, we can make more $ selling it as a memoir.”
Yeah–right–and then I woke up and remembered I don’t live on Mars.
However, that’s not what this post is about. It’s about something he said. The reason why he wrote the “novel” and the process of writing it.
He was so moved after reading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller that he wanted to write a book just like it. And so he wrote A Million Little Pieces without mechanics, structure or grammar in mind. It was raw, gritty–a Picasso.
And that’s when it hit me like Bam. No… like–BING BAM BAM WAAAM.
I have been such a structuralist for the last six years, while learning structure that I forgot the art of writing. It’s been so long since my heart connected with the tapping of my fingers. I’m always thinking while writing. Building. Constructing. Arranging.
I think at some point we as writers have to LEARN structure and then put it in the back of our minds. In the index mind you. Yet when we sit down before the blank page, we must put the artist in the forefront of our minds. We are artists. I am an artist.
It’s so interesting because if you’ve been reading you know that I’m writing a vampire novel right now. And it’s working out fine. I’m writing it in the first person. I’ve never written anything in the first person but I really need to learn how to merge into my work, become part of it and not stand on the outskirts, telling the reader what’s happening.
And if you remember, I decided to take a step and write as a Mary Sue.
Well, grouping all of my decisions together, one thing is revealed–I have been simply trying to chisel away at the structure I built within myself and carve out a more studied artist–the final stage. And it’s been HARD. I’m actually going to post the beginning of a novel I wrote 6 years ago. It’s so artistic, so in the moment–the heart of the character on display. But the story needed structure.
I’m going back to that kind of writing from this moment on and let the structuralist think only to give the artist a word of guidance! It’s like mental teamwork! The binaries working together!
I love it! (says the artist)
By the way–I’m well aware that the artist has written all of my blog posts… she needs to start writing all of my novels now!