Copyright © 2009 by
Susan Petroulas, All Rights Reserved
Some people can put writing
into a neat little box that doesn't touch any other part of their
lives. Other people think of writers as isolated, with their word
processor and their quiet writing time. That's not what it is for me.
Parts of my life bleed into
my writing, skills I've developed for other purposes are used in my
writing. And writing bleeds into other parts of my life. Writing is
problem solving and learning about my writing process has helped me
figure out my problem-solving process as well.
In addition to
writing, one of my (many) hobbies is pottery. I've taken classes for
twelve years and there's a potter's wheel in my living room. I love the
way the clay feels and how I can make it into the shapes I imagine. For
me, that's magic and at least one of my magic systems is based on that.
scenes describing pottery, how the clay feels, pulling the clay up and
forming the shape of the vessel. One of my wizards "pushes" the firing
process a little with his particular magic, which I couldn't do if I
didn't understand what happens in the pottery kiln.
But what I've
figured out is that the process of throwing pots is parallel to writing
a story. It's more than throwing, or forming, the pot – there's
trimming, cutting and reforming and glazing. All have parallels with
crafting a story.
If you don't
center the pot, it'll fly off the wheel or become so warped, you can't
use it as a pot.
If you don't
start off with a strong central idea, your story can spin out of
Having a Plan
If you have an
idea of what you want from the beginning, a vase or bowl, you'll have
less *fixing* to do later.
If you have an
idea of the story you want to tell, you'll have less revising later.
pottery and writing, you don't need a plan and can just start. And
sometimes that works just as well.
quickly, you create the general shape and form of the pot - a vase, a
bowl or a bottle
quickly, get the story down in a first draft.
Letting it Sit
You have to
let the clay dry out, but not too much, before you can trim the pot.
You have le t
the story sit, but not too much, before you can edit the plot.
When the clay
is "leather hard", firmed up enough to be sturdier and stronger, you cut
away the parts that don't belong and shape the pot.
When the story
has settled, you cut away (edit) the parts that don't belong and shape
the pot, you put a glossy (or matte) glaze on it to polish it up.
finishing the edit, you polish it up.
Okay, so it's
cute. But it's also true. I'm cutting bits of my story away, the same
way that I'm cutting bits of clay away. And as I get to be a better
potter, I'm cutting away more and more. I'm also learning how to shape
the pot so that I won't have to cut quite so much away.
And as I get
to be a better writer, I'm cutting away more scenes and words to make
the work tighter. I'm also learning how to write, so that I won't have
that much to cut away later.
Now, I've got
this idea to make learning magic similar to learning how to throw a