Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Not taking notes

I'm trying an experiment with my novel, which is to stop taking notes about it. In Novel Voices Ann Patchett says she doesn't take them, because she's afraid of getting too attached to them and never actually writing. I think I see what she means. Until recently I've been an obsessive note-taker, often scribbling frantically in my notebook as I ride the train to work. **KYLE IS NOT A VETERAN. **DOES HE SPEAK SPANISH??** The next morning I start revising with these notes in mind, discovering, more often than not, that it still doesn't work and what I need is to write through the problem, rather than think through it. As a mostly former academic, this is tough for me to accept. I'm afraid of forgetting. But as I think Patchett implies, if it's really important, you'll remember it, and the rest of the stuff is probably better forgotten because it's all interim thinking. It's true that I still type little two-sentence notes at the end of paragraphs sometimes, but I restrain myself from expanding on them or going back and turning the whole manuscript upside down as a result of these half-baked thoughts.

Patience with uncertainty. That's the key.

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