Sculpting with Words by Vivienne Ylang

Hello there!  Vivienne Ylang, here.  I have had a CRAZY week this week – no time for anything but the most crucial.  Laundry is done – only because my sons were out of underwear and I didn’t have time to shop for new.  I began the process of catching up the dishes yesterday, but I haven’t had time to finish the job.  I’ve got about 25 minutes now, before my next round of chaos begins, so I thought I’d squeeze in my blog post for the week.

charming the prince coverSo, I did manage to read one book this week (that’s WAY down from my usual count) and it was lovely.  Charming the Prince by Theresa Medeiros.  It’s not particularly new, but it’s a wonderful story and artfully told in vivid language that evokes the emotions of the characters. 

“Yeah, so?” you’re thinking…”Viv ~ that’s what good writing is supposed to do.”  Well, you are right, dear Scribbler.  Here’s my problem.  My current labor of love, Sometimes, is coming along, and while it’s okay, the language is no where near as emotion-evoking, vividly-picturesque or, well…anything other than…serviceable. 

Yup, that’s the best I have to say about it at the moment.  It’s serviceable.  The story is being told/shown.  I started to beat myself up about this the other day.  No, seriously, I banged my car door into my head hard enough to leave a mark just minutes before rushing to a public hearing on the crisis that is my town’s budget.  I was lumpy and misshapen on TV – it was ugly. 

Okay, the thing with the car door was an accident because I was rushing around like a crazy lady. But I did have the thought a couple of times while reading this delightful book that it was WAY better than mine.  Yes, I had language envy. 

Then I took a deep breath, kicked the Doubt Monster in the belly and reminded myself that I’m still writing the first draft.  There will be plenty of time to carve in the detail and polish the whole thing up after I finish the ever-lovin’ first draft.  And this is where my sculpture metaphor comes in.

When a sculptor begins a work, she starts with a humongous lump of marble.  She slowly chisels away at the lump to form the basic shape of her sculpture.  Then she has to carefully refine it, one little bit at a time to get each part of the sculpture looking just the way she wants it to.  Finally, it has to be buffed and polished.   Then, and only then, is it ready for the viewing.  Then it’s finished.

david's headTake a look at Michelangelo’s David.  Do you think he Michelangelo got each of those curls right the first time? With the first whack of the chisel?  No, I don’t think so.  What about those lips, that nose, those piercing eyes?  Even the ear is incredible!  And I can tell you from experience, that pictures don’t do this piece justice.  It’s amazing.  You can sit there for hours just staring at the guy. 

So, I’m not going to worry so much about my language not being what I’d ultimately like it to be.  I’m writing a first draft.  If I can get the basic shape of the piece carved out, the plot, the characters, their development, I can go back and chisel and polish my way to artful language. 

Take that Doubt Monster!

The Secret: don’t be so hard on yourself.  The best thing about being an author is that you literally have a lifetime to finish sculpting your story.  Take as much time as you need.  Just don’t quit because it doesn’t look perfect at the first pass.

I loved Florence, Italy.  It was an amazing city – so much to see, including Mr. David.  What’s the coolest place you’ve traveled to?


2 thoughts on “Sculpting with Words by Vivienne Ylang”

  1. Good timing, Viv. And so true! I’m in edits for Western Desert and I keep trying to convince myself that I don’t actually suck at this writing thing. As my editor points out all of my “telling,” my misplaced modifiers (of which there are many less these days), my repetitive sentence structure, yada yada yada, I am forced to find better adjectives, stronger verbs, and spruce up my dialogue. I am suddenly very aware of how many times I’ve used the word suddenly and must eradicate them from the story wherever possible (thank you Stephen King). i know that the finished product will be good, but fine tuning and polishing is an arduous process. I wish I had the time it took for Michelangelo to complete The David or the Sistine Chapel, but indie publishing waits for no woman:-) Keep plugging sister!

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