Giacometti Fixed My Head

Giacometti, Homme Qui Marche, 1947 (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve worked for twenty-seven years (and counting) as an engineer on water resource problems, but I’ve never had a career. As much as I think the water work needs doing, it’s never felt like something I pursued because it was rich and valuable to me. Rather, it’s just been a series of jobs in which I’ve felt restless, like I’ve had an itch I can’t scratch.

In 2017, I finally discovered writing, and it’s been a paradigm shift in satisfaction with my work. When writing, I often feel like I’m doing what I’m made to do. At times, my day job in engineering still feels like a storm that could shipwreck my soul, but my writing serves as critical ballast, preventing capsize. Though I won’t feel I’ve had a writing career until my words get published (which is yet to happen), the writing itself often gives me joy.

And yet. And yet.

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Complete First Draft

Photo by Yusuf Evli on Unsplash

After a year of research and just under two years of writing — early mornings, late nights, and everything in between — I’ve finally finished a complete first draft of my first novel. Whew!

Next up: revisions. After working through the many notes I’ve given myself on earlier chapters, I plan to follow this framework for revising, laid out by the good folks at Gotham Writers Workshop. Seems like a wise approach.

Creativity and Constraints

As I launch into fiction writing, I’ve been reading Robert McKee’s Story as a guide to the principles of good narrative. I just came across the following passage that is part of his discussion of the importance of defining a clear setting for one’s story—the period, duration, location, and level of conflict exhibited in the story:

“Limitation is vital. The first step toward a well-told story is to create a small, knowable world. Artists by nature crave freedom, so the principle that the structure/setting relationship restricts creative choices may stir the rebel in you. With a closer look, however, you’ll see that this relationship couldn’t be more positive. The constraint that setting imposes on story design doesn’t inhibit creativity; it inspires it.” (71)

This passage rings true to me. It seems to me a myth about creativity that Continue reading