I’ve recently committed myself to 3 “morning pages” per day. For the 3 days that I’ve done these, they’ve mainly consisted of reflections about my writing, which has been helpful, and has also raised some questions.
Yesterday I found myself reflecting on a piece I planned to write based on the recent mouse plague in our kitchen. Having scribbled down some initial images, I was pondering where to take these ideas. A poem would lend itself well to the strong imagery I wanted to use. But, I also thought, perhaps our mice would do well in a short story too. In my morning pages I wrote something like, “I’m not sure yet what this piece wants to be.”
What it wants to be… It struck me as such a strange idea. To think of a story or poem as a separate being with a mind of its own. As a free-thinking agent.
Should a piece of writing be able to want anything? Does this kind of attitude make me a lazy writer? Shouldn’t I be wrangling my words in whatever way I want? If I sit back and let a story guide itself, it may have an internal logic, but will it be the best story or poem that it can be?
I don’t have an answer to these questions, but they’re things that my morning pages brought up for me today.
What do you think? Can stories or poems have a mind of their own? Should they?
03/02/2011 at 8:55 pm
I love Morning Pages. I’ve been doing them for awhile, but had lost the stream-of-consciousness aspect of them somewhere along the way. I had lost the enjoyment of them too. Since I renewed my commitment to their original purpose, I’ve begun to enjoy them so much and their effects are definitely spreading out to the rest of my writing.
As for stories having a mind of their own…I definitely think that’s true. I know intellectually that I am the one creating a story but it doesn’t feel like that when I’m writing it. It feels like I’m trying to feel out the shape of a story that already exists “out there” in complete form. I feel like I’m discovering something that is already its own thing. In fact, when I try to force something on a story is when it usually collapses. I think Michelangelo said something about finding the form already in the marble and releasing it…or was that Rodin?
I have been kicking around a similar idea for a post on my blog. You’ve inspired me to actually write it. Would it be okay if I linked to this post in my post?
04/02/2011 at 1:27 am
I think I just don’t feel comfortable with that idea of writer as divine, channeling a higher force. It’s like when people talk about “The Muse” – I don’t believe in that either. It’s a nice idea, but at the end of the day things get written because I make them happen.
Having said that… I wrote what I wrote, so somewhere inside I must think similarly to Michelangelo or Rodin…
Absolutely! Feel free to link me, I look forward to reading your post!
07/02/2011 at 7:46 pm
Thanks for the permission!
I don’t think of the writer-as-divine-channel either. I think of it more as channeling the unconsious. It just feels like channeling something but I know it comes out of me. And the Muse is just my way of imagining that aspect of my creativity. Definitely nothing mystical there. If I were channeling a higher force…I think I’d have less editing to do. Heh heh he.
04/02/2011 at 4:05 am
I’m jealous of people with time for morning pages. Damn you students! I have done them at strange times when I’ve actually had times and they’ve helped me realise where I want to go with an idea, though you think it’s guiding you, you’re still guiding it in a kind of subconscious way so go with it…
07/02/2011 at 7:51 pm
Hey now! I’m not a student! Well…I’m a student of life. Ha ha ha! I’m a homeschooling mother of 2, provide daycare for a third, etc etc. I get the lack-of-time issue. In a big way. It seems like my MPs usually don’t take more than 15 min or so first thing in the am (although another blogger wrote about doing “whenever pages” for the times when life just moves too fast for the MPs first thing in the am). I keep my notebook right by my bed. They used to take me forever because I was spending too much time thinking about what I was writing…now I just let it all pour out and get on with the day. So useful. Definitely time well spent.