Friday, October 29, 2010

Yes, And...?

Disclaimer: This blog post will not be edited, reread or proofed in any way, shape or form (I'll explain why in a moment), and does not represent the usual high-quality standards of Your Friendly Neighborhood WordNerdGirl.

Whew, that was hard... I reread those sentences as I was writing them, at least six times before I moved onto this one. Okay, baby steps -- I'll go one paragraph at a time.

Anyway -- hey there and hi. I haven't been around much lately. Very, very busy, which is a good thing, mostly. I've been WordNerdGirling for SJ Magazine as their copyeditor, and was very excited to have the privilege of editing a book proposal, and I am wishing ZsaZsa Gapooch, Auntie Ness and Merka the best of luck now that their agent has the final document in hand. I also have my four kids, who are a fulltime job themselves. But since I've had to delay my grad school plans indefinitely, I've also been seeking out my Plan B, pursuing some other non-writing interests in hopes of kick-starting my very depleted creative juices: I'm planning some quilting projects -- but not the Amishy, grandma-quilting-bee kind. I'm talking about a bad-ass mixed media, kind of quilting. I am also in the midst of an improv comedy class, which is why I've decided to write this post without editing it (and torturing myself in the process -- I didn't realize how compulsively I reread and play with things I write until now. Agh - just caught myself rewriting that last sentence.)

 So, how does improv, which is all about making it up as you go (remember the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?) supposed to help with writing? Explaining needed...

In the first class, the instructor, who is (parent-alert) also the host of the Sprout channel's The Sunny Side Up Show, talked about the philosophy behind improv. (And I've learned something already: improv is a philosophy?) That philosophy is "Yes, And..." Basically, all that means is that you take whatever is thrown at you by your scene partners and build on it -- even if you have no clue what to do with it. If you screw it up, move on. If it doesn't come out quite the way you wanted, move on. But don't fight it, don't try to force it to be something it's not. Just add your own contribution and hope for the best and,  more often than not, you'll actually wind up getting the desired result -- in this case, a laugh.

One of my weaknesses as a writer (WordNerdGirl - you have a weakness? Say it ain't so!) is when I'm writing fiction, or poetry, or anything that requires imagination, I find it next-to-impossible to turn off my internal editor. The same thing that makes me a great, kick-ass editor (yeah, I said it -- great. And kick-ass.) makes it almost impossible for me to sit down and write all the stories I have rattling around up in my head. Because I know what result I want, I know exactly how it should work, but because it's creative, it is messy and -- especially in the first writing draft -- it is imperfect, much like this blog post is now, because these paragraphs are too long and I'm not explaining this as precisely as I want. It needs editing, and I all I can see are the flaws that need fixing. I get so caught up in fixing the flaws, the stories get lost.

I am finding that "Yes, And..." is a very useful way of looking at writing, as well as living. (Gee, I guess it really is a philosophy.) The last few months, I've been dealing with more plot twists than a daytime soap opera. It's been exhausting, trying to fix and repair everything. Part of the fallout has been delaying grad school, which I had hoped would put me in an environment where I could learn to turn off my editor and write more stories. That's not happening now, but maybe I can learn to write creatively just by saying, "Yes, And..." And maybe I can better deal with the unexpected, and get results that may not be the one I wanted, but is -- I hope -- better than I could have ever expected.

And this is usually the point where I go back and hammer at every word I've written and rearrange paragraphsandrereaditandbythatpointI'myellingatthekidsand -oh, wait! If I change the wording here it will shortentheparagraphandshortergraphsareeasiertoreadandI'mdoingitagain. Yes, I am. And?

Just click "Publish Post," please.

Referenced Links: ComedySportz Philadelphia, The Sunny Side Up Show, Quilting Arts Magazine, SJ Magazine


  1. Anonymous10/29/2010

    Glad you're back!! I know exactly what you mean. Great post!

  2. cherryl10/29/2010

    Thats a shame about school, but glad you've got other things on the burner :-)