Monday, December 7, 2009

Making it perfect instead of getting it "write"

My littlest guy has a favorite show: Max & Ruby. Based on the books by Rosemary Wells, it's about Max (a young bunny) and his bossy older sister, Ruby. In her perpetual quest for another Bunny Scout badge, Ruby thinks Max is in the way and tries to boss him around. But when she runs into problems, it's Max who invariably shows her the way in his persistent, mono-syllabic little brother fashion.

Gee, that's nice, Cyn. What's your point?

The other day, I finally saw a new episode. (Those of you with small children can relate to my excitement. After you watch each episode 500 times each, you tend to get a  In this one, Ruby decides she's going to write a story. (Ha! See?) Being the control-freak that she is, she has to get it all perfect. A nice quiet place to write in, freshly-sharpened pencils, and lots of clean, white paper. But then..."Cowboy!", Max interrupts.

Ruby ends up getting some cookies for herself, (and Max). Because you never know if you'll get hungry when writing a story, and you don't want to have to get up to get something. "Cowboy!" Milk for Max, milk for Ruby. Finally, she picks up the pencil. "How to start my story?" Ruby muses. (Most of us don't have this problem, by the way. We usually say, "How to end my story?" or worse, "How to get through this stupid middle ohwhythe$@#%!didn't I write an outline first...oh! I have a brilliant idea for another, new and improved story!"

Ruby starts with "Once upon a time..." because--as she says, "All the best stories start that way." Then she wonders "Then what?" (Aha! Middle muddle!) A mermaid? A  ballerina? A..."Cowboy!"

Ruby spends the entire show ignoring the fact that Max is offering her a character and situations for him (playing the harmonica, eating cookies, riding his hobby-horse...) and maybe even a conflict. ("Need cookies!") But Ruby is so intent upon "getting it right" that she misses the perfectly good idea right in front of her.

Well...almost. Of course, after about twenty minutes of sharpening pencils and trying to get her writer's space exactly right, she opens her eyes to her Muse (so to speak) and start writing.

How often have you been like Ruby? Are you missing the obvious because you're so caught up in the little details that don't matter?

For me, it's the office supplies. The perfect pen with the perfect color ink. (But...I don't write in pen. I use my computer.) Or--I need 4x6 scene cards, pink for the heroine's point-of-view, blue for the hero's and green for...well...I like the green ones. The perfect three-ring binder in just the right color for my manuscript pages. And sticky notes, and mechanical pencils, and lead for the pencils, and maybe some of those eraser sticks that click up in the holder and a zippered, three-ring binder pencil pocket and a new flash drive and...

See what I mean? We get so caught up in the silly things (like Ruby and her sharpened pencils) that we're missing the cowboy riding his horse around our writing space.

Think about it. How do you allow yourself to be distracted?

1 comment:

  1. I'm very easily distracted. I'm thinking of buying my muse (she says hi) a larger whip to help keep me focused. ;-)