Friday, January 25, 2013
Your Spine: Telling the Story YOU Want to Tell
This particular manuscript idea came to me through a friend's Facebook status one day. Immediately I set to write the story. I was so inspired. I loved the idea and thought it to be totally original and fun. I was excited by it.
Fast forward several months and several critiques later. I looked at my manuscript, and although it was still a cute story, it had .lost something. It had lost my original idea and any thread of the inspiration. It was no longer the story I wanted to write, but completely different...created from the various critiques and comments I had received from many teachers and colleagues. It was no longer the story that I wanted to tell.
Enter Scott. He's a member of my Critique Group and had heard me speak of the original idea behind this manuscript and had even read some early early drafts. Upon reading a later draft, he told me that he liked the original idea and felt that I had gotten way too off-base. I needed to hear that. He was right. Thank you, Scott, for being honest and setting me right.
That night I got home, pulled up one of the early versions of the manuscript on my laptop (and yes, I do believe you should keep all versions of your stories...maybe for this reason) and I set to work on rewriting and getting back on track. Phew!
Twyla talks about this exact thing in Chapter 8 of "The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life". She calls it "spine".
Spine, to put it bluntly, begins with your first strong idea. You were scratching to come up with an idea, you found one, and through the next stages of creative thinking you nurtured it into the spine of you creation. The idea is the toehold that gets you started. The spine is the statement you make to yourself outlining your intentions for the work. You intend to tell this story. The audience may infer it or not. But if you stick to your spine, the piece will work.
What a great feeling to have found my spine again.
What are you currently working on? Re-visit your original spine. Are you telling the story YOU want to tell?