by Sharon Archer
– Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
– Nottinghill.... yep, again!
– Best of Buddy Holly
Making me Smile
– these doctor ducks!
Before I started writing, I was a medical scientist. My days were spent at a laboratory bench and my watchwords were accuracy, meticulous technique, mathematical precision and rigorous quality control! These are great traits for a medical scientist because there is nothing worse than having racks loaded with urgent special stains, for instance, and then finding out you’ve run out of the reagent you need next.
Nothing was left to chance. If it was within my control, then controlled it would be.
My ducks were lined up - always!
So... when I started writing, I expected to be able to translate this ruthless organisation over to my creative process.
It didn’t work!
For a long time, I felt hamstrung, a creative push-me-pull-you, unable to make headway in any direction. My internal medical scientist wanted to fill out character charts, plan the order of each scene, line up the ducks in order of height, weight, colour, feather type. Any measurable characteristic would do. While my muse was bored! She wanted to dive right in, scatter the ducks across the pond, see where they ended up. See what they looked like from this angle or that angle. Or from underneath! She was a rebel! And my medical scientist thought she was a pain in the... you-know-what!
Luckily, about the time things were getting a bit fraught, I discovered Stephen King’s autobiography, On Writing. I realised it was okay to let go, not to know everything, to go boldly! It’s not comfortable... but it’s the way it is!
Today, my duck-liner is out of her comfort zone again. Our modem has died – it’s taken weeks of gasping and staggering and hours of first aid from the ISP helpdesk but, finally, it’s stopped!
I’ve begged for cybertime from a friend so I can post this blog. I mightn’t be able to answer your comments in a timely fashion but I’d love to know...
Do you line up your ducks? Or have you discovered things about yourself that have annoyed you? Or maybe, delighted you?
I’ll give away a copy of my latest book to one of my commenters... as soon as I can get back on to the ‘net to speak to you again!
Hi Sharon --ReplyDelete
I'm an engineer...so I like my ducks all lined up in an orderly fashion too. And I assumed my writing would be the same.
I'm still refining my writing process, but I'm learning to let go and scatter the ducks across the pond (-: Thanks for the great post!
Snap, Anna! It's lovely to meet another duck-liner going feral! LOL I'm still refining my writing process, too - so any and all tips about scattering ducks will be gratefully received!ReplyDelete
One thing I've discovered is that in my other working life (teaching) I'm a duck-liner - just have to be - you need organisation and methodical preparation or those little munchkins will run rings around you!ReplyDelete
The duckies are semi-lined in my writing life - I have a physical, wake up and sit myself down in the seat, put fingers to the keyboard routine I stick to when I write. BUT.
(Yep, knew that was coming *lol*.)
But as for the actual creative process of writing the story, those duckies start to scatter. Panster Duck - that's my name!
Starting Duck and Finishing Duck are usually very reliable but Plot Duck, Character Duck, Conflict Duck, Dialogue Duck and Scene Order Duck tend to swim around,and around, and around for a good draft or two before realising they're supposed to be in a neat, orderly line.
It takes a lot of work rounding them up. But this is the process that works for me at the moment. One thing I have noticed though as I've refined my skills is that the Duckies don't seem to be swimming for long as aimlessly. The process and time involved in getting them lined up is improving.
Hi Sharon,Love your ducks and the fascinating insight into your medical past.ReplyDelete
I am a messy, disorganized procrastinator (duck drowner, perhaps!) who likes to stay up all night when the muse hits me. However, in my "day job" as a magazine editor, I am responsible for budgets with many zeros attached to them, and print runs numbering inthe millions where you cannot be even minutes late to the printer. So I have to be extremely well organized there. Hopefully some of that runs into my writing life, too!The workshop Paula Roe ran at the Brisbane conference was excellent for people like me.
Sharon, what a gorgeous post. And you have a whole Gray's Anatomy worth of ducks of there. And handsome fellows they are, too. Actually it's scary chucking yourself upon the pond of inspiration, isn't it? Writing is not for the faint-hearted - we must be tough or we'll quack up (oh, dear, I do amuse myself!). Kylie, sounds like you have a whole duck farm going on there, couldn't help giggling. Perhaps you need a re-duck-tion? Nah! I didn't think so either!ReplyDelete
Oh, yes, Kylie, as a teacher you'd have to be excellent at lining things up, be they ducks or munchkins!ReplyDelete
I'm right with you on the BUT (LOL) and your flock of feral Pantser Ducks though. But it sounds like you might be working on a 'system'. You do know that I want to know all your secrets when you've finished!
Thanks, Kandy! I'm so glad you like my ducks! I couldn't resist them!ReplyDelete
Ah, your day job and working with large amounts of someone else's money means you have to be organised, doesn't it! Don't want any feral ducks there!
You must find your muse's demands for an all-nighter difficult at times! I must confess mine is quite fond of the wee small hours of the morning - bless her! Doesn't she know, someone would rather be sleeping!
Anna, you like my duckies, too! Aren't they gorgeous! I've got nurse ducks, too, but I didn't put them in just in case you all thought I was 'quackers'! Sorry, I couldn't resist your pun! There are other 'professional' ducks too - I had to be very strong not to buy them all!ReplyDelete
Ooooo, I love your 'pond of inspiration' - does it have a hunky lifeguard? I think I've forgotten how to swim!
Love the ducks, Sharon!ReplyDelete
Things don't always go to plan, do they? Fortunately, this little black duck isn't much of a planner. I kind of drift along with the current, except when it comes to writing. Having spend years in the flimming wilderness, I can now be found in captivity, plotting and scheming each book. I hardly recognise myself anymore, but it works!
Quacking good post! I hope you're back online soon.
I have the ducks flapping around madly in my head for a while as ideas form. Then I set them free and everything goes south from there LOL!!ReplyDelete
Sharon - great post. I'm an Analyst Programmer by trade so in my day job - lining up the ducks is a must. BUT I too could never do the character charts or the conflict squares. I do plot to a certain extent - but I can't plan it to the nth degree.ReplyDelete
I'm here! For a brief fling anyway! I'm still trespassing on outside hospitality. new modem is promised - should have been here on Friday but I guess the duck-scatterer must have been busy in the Post office!ReplyDelete
Vanessa, a duck-lining convert! This is very interesting since you sound like you're a self-confessed non-liner! You know that I'm going to want to know more, don't you! Next time I see you...ReplyDelete
Mel, as long as the "south" doesn't equal downhill! If the flapping equals flying in formation then you're on to a winning combo! Mmm, better have a good chat about duck training techniques! LOLReplyDelete
Tracey, Analyst Programming is a definite duck-lining-up profession! Perhaps our muses just enjoy the freedom of letting the ducks go feral after all that good behaviour at our day jobs!ReplyDelete
It's great to know that I'm scattering ducks in such great company!
Sharon, those ducks are gorgeous! I love ducks - we have some who live down on our little dam, and we get so excited when they have babies. =)ReplyDelete
But back to your topic - I'm definitely a duck-line-er-up-er. Seems like we have a few of us here!
Wonderful post Sharon and you've outted all the duck-liner-uppers in their day job and duck-messers in their creative life!!! I'm no different. When I try to line up ducks and be creative, nothing happens! Even when I try to learn something new (like after doing a course) the Muse seems to take a holiday. If my brain's not a mess, the Muse won't come and play.ReplyDelete
Hope your modem's back on track soon.
Love the ducks, Sharon! I'm definitely a duck-liner-upper ... haven't yet encountered my inner duck-messer-upper. Maybe I don't have one?ReplyDelete
I'm back! Well, sort of! Courtesy of a little wireless plug-in thingamie that charges maximum money for minimum capacity!ReplyDelete
Rachel, our wild wood ducks had ducklings last year too! Absolutely gorgeous - from a great distance and through binoculars because mum and dam duck were very wary parents. And just as well because we have way too many Br'er Foxes around here!
Thanks, Cath! I see you're another combo! There are a lot of us around! We've got to give our muses what they want so we can keep them happy!ReplyDelete
Aren't the ducks too cute, Emily! :)ReplyDelete
Hey, don't go looking for the messy ducks - I can definitely see that having obedient, lining-up ducks would be fantastic! Perhaps you could give us pointers from a duck-liner-upper!
And now, it's my job to say who wins a copy of the book! Woohoo! With great scientific precision, the liner-upper duck chooses CATHERINE! So Cath, if you could email me on sharon @ sharon-archer . com (no spaces)ReplyDelete
I'll get it into the post as soon as connections allow me to pick up your email!