So the last time I posted a video on Writer Unboxed, I talked up bathing in the unknown. And it got me thinking, even if the unknown is a powerful place, what’s next? For me, after some bathing, I like to figure out what I’ve got on my hands. (Yeah, I know, the bathing metaphor just fell apart…) And the most effective way I know to make it more known… is by seeing how it affects other people. These people need to be trusted people, especially at this early phase, because the material is raw and messy and I’m probably feeling vulnerable. Even so, seeing (or more like: feeling) another person’s response is critical for me to take the story to the next phase.
Look, I know plenty of writers who don’t require others to create something powerful. But not me, I need to listen for when the reader (or listener) laughs or sighs or gasps or holds their breath. And then, I can better understand what the hell I’m writing. That’s when I find out that my story I thought was about all the crazy bus routes in Portland is really about one lonely man’s longing to connect with another person. Or how my Darth Vader story is really a story about the challenges of step parenting. Or how there are already enough think pieces about Bojack Horseman. (OK, just kidding about that last one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for think pieces about Bojack, but I haven’t actually written one myself yet… The other examples are actually true.)
My whole process is really just a back and forth between time alone with my writing and time learning how others respond to the writing. But this first step from the unknown to the… slightly-more-known is my favorite phase (even if it’s also the scariest).
Here’s the video I made about this subject:
What about you? Do you have trusted readers who help you along the writing journey? Are you comfortable exposing your mess?