On reflection: can there be too much of it?


Writers are past masters of diversionary tactics. This particular writer spends a considerable amount of avoiding the work in progress. She is not sure why. But staring out of the window is definitely a popular pastime. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want to stare at a sky like this, the sun going down behind Wenlock Edge.

Then I discovered something really neat as I was trying to snap it. My office has a cabin bed in the corner under the roof light. So I clambered on the bed, and opened the window to the horizontal to give myself a makeshift ‘tripod’. I then set the Lumix to sunset mode and rested it on the back of the window. And this is what happened.

Who’d’ve thought avoiding writing could be this much fun. But there’s a lesson here too. Sometimes we overthink the pieces we are working on. Sometimes we need to loosen up and play. And ask questions. Definitely ask questions. E.g. What would happen if I let my characters think for themselves, and stopped trying to control them? What if I let them go play? What might they not come with? Something magical, diverting, extraordinary? Do I have the nerve to let them go?

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

38 thoughts on “On reflection: can there be too much of it?

  1. Interesting question. Writing always seems to me to be about control. About constructing the definitive (?) narrative. And I guess the difference between story-telling and story-making is the extent to which control is relinquished, or perhaps shared. I’m rubbish at writing fiction because my characters are never real enough in my head to have any chance of thinking for themselves, but even in my non-fiction world new ideas and tangents emerge, usually driven by the shape and sound of a phrase which conveys an idea differently to how I imagined it. Him; not sure this quite makes sense so I’ll stop here and go ponder over coffee. Gorgeous image by the way!

    1. Well I suppose the main control in fiction is in the structure. There has to be some shape and discipline to the storytelling as you say. But when it comes to letting the characters go, then it all becomes a bit weird. One of my characters took off on her own after I had a distinct impression of what the ground felt like on the soles of her feet when she was wearing a particular pair of shoes. Sensations like that set things off.

      1. Maybe that feisty character of yours needs to develop a disability, that will show her.
        I like the idea about control in writing, it sometimes reminds me of the wild jazz riffs musicians take when they solo; it feels good to hear them bring it back. I had that problem with the Grateful Dead and other jam bands sometimes, when they didn’t seem to come back, like your character with the shoes. There’s an element of obedience I expect from my people, you know! Sit, roll over, play dead.

      2. Ha! ‘Sit, roll over, play dead’. Obedience, people, or I’ll write you out of the story. But seriously, I think you put your finger on a very important point, Bill. It’s never coming back from the riff that could be part of this writer’s anxiety – at least where writing a novel is concerned. Short stories are a different matter, they seem to come from some another mental compartment. Well, I mean you start off knowing you need to be brief (!), and the story people just need to get with it. My current main character is nearly one hundred years old. When I let him go out, he doesn’t move very fast. He also does a lot of remembering, and it seems rude to tell him that all that stuff doesn’t really matter. Good to talk 🙂

  2. I, too, spend plenty of time getting ready to write and not doing it. The reflection and photo making are perfect. It’s hard to let your characters go off on their own but many writers say they do it. Remember you always have editorial control to use later and you might like the surprise. I nominated you for a 3 Day Quote challenge. My quotes in this challenge are by well known writers and story tellers about the process of creating stories. Here’s the link to the challenge. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/novel-writing/

  3. I love your romantic, wild garden… My neighbours woman is standing on the fence and leave comments how to work in the garden… when I´m doing something in it. But she doesn´t like rain. So I prefer working in the garden while is raining! Your living room looks so cozy and warm… I like that old farm house style very much. I also have no plastic furnitures, but our house is to new to create that style with the georgeous ceiling and floors… Where do you live? Sorry, it´s the first time I visit your bloh and I don´t know. Have a wonderful day, Nessy from the happinessygirls

    1. Thanks for calling in here, Dr. Nessy. Gardening in the rain – I think that’s something we’re going to have to get used to doing in the UK. I like that image of you avoiding your too helpful neighbour.

  4. experiment Tish as in this wonderful exploratory shot and let them reflect for themselves – after all am sure you’ve given the characters a good grounding so like children maybe time to let them go and make their own mistakes! wishing you a good weekend

  5. I will have to Google ‘Lumix’ later to make sense of what exactly you did through a sliver of window–take pictures? I love the idea of letting your characters loose to do what they will. What an excellent invitation to anarchy!

    1. Hi Kirizar. My particular Lumix is a very simple Panasonic point and shoot digital camera. The window in the roof swivels from the sloping to the horizontal when you open it. I was resting the camera on top of the open window to photograph the sky when I realised the window was reflecting the sky above as well. Hope that makes sense 🙂

  6. Tish this is very good food for thought. I like to control most everything in life and continue to work on being more flexible, to go with the flow. Some of my better writing happens when I let go and just write without thinking too much. Thank you for the reflection!

  7. “Sometimes we overthink the pieces we are working on.”
    Indeed. I am a victim of overthinking. It can make a good story seem rather dull and useless.
    That’s an excellent photo, Tish. A very fine capture.

  8. Sometimes the easy way is the right way, but I too tend to overthink. Hopefully you are doing what you like doing right now and everything is fine. I love your photo, Tish.

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