Figure 8

Saturday I spent an enjoyable afternoon shopping at the Prime Outlets over the Wisconsin border (in 16-degree weather). Sunday I attacked the paper invasion that's been piling up on my desk. After that I didn't feel like doing a damn thing, not even writing.

I often spend Sunday afternoons watching figure skating (while writing and preparing dinner, multitasker that I am). This Sunday I just sat and watched, not doing anything else. I love the gracefulness of the female skaters and the male/female ice dancing (don't care much for men skating alone). There are so many different combinations of movements.

As I considered the re-structuring that must be done on my current WIP, it occurred to me that figure skating is like writing (just because I didn't feel like writing anything didn't mean I wasn't thinking about it). You often know what is coming, depending on the genre of the story (or that a jump is coming when in skating the jumps, spins, and lifts), but the execution is different. Everyone has their own style, and sometimes the style of an individual or team differs within itself. I've seen couples moving in perfect symmetry on the ice to romantic music and the classics, then show their whimsical side with more fast-paced numbers and lots of equally challenging steps. I cheer for the skaters who manage to execute every turn, lift, and jump flawlessly.

But sometimes skaters do slip and fall. One unlucky couple yesterday was perfect until the dip at the finale, when the female somehow landed flat on her back (in writing, this is known as an unsatisfying ending). Although they're always back on their feet before I can say "Ouch!" on their behalf, it has to be upsetting after all that practice. It's kind of the way I feel when I read over galleys - which I'll be doing next week - and see things I want to re-write but can't at that late stage in the process. The job of going over what I've written and making the changes my agent has suggested before submission seems, not insurmountable, but at the very least a daunting task.

I'm working on something a little different from anything I've done before, not extremely different, but with subtle nuances of which I wasn't previously aware. On Sunday I watched two performances of an ice-skating couple, the first one all smooth and graceful, the second much more athletic. They made it all look so easy. I thought of how I've always admired authors who comfortably move between very different genres, like Leslie Esdaile (or L.A. Banks or Leslie Esdaile Banks, depending on what she's writing), Donna Hill and the others whose names I can't think of at the moment. (Yes, I write romance and women's fiction, but - while not taking anything away from my own accomplishments - the fact is that these two categories aren't all that far apart. It's actually a sub-genre that's giving me such a hard time at the moment.) Writers who move between genres well (or from smooth choreography to complicated moves on the ice) make it look easy when it's anything but. Even authors who write in one genre, like romance, try different approaches within that genre to shake things up a little. This is a must, for no one wants to write the same story over and over again. Likewise, spectators at all those skating shows and competitions would also be unhappy if their favorite skaters did the same routines over and over again, and they'd stop buying tickets.

Yes, figure skating is like writing. And now that my musing is over, it's time to stop procrastinating and get back to shaping my WIP to fit the mold . . . without falling on my ass. Considering the weather here this morning, I'll be doing a little gliding myself just to get to the car!


Gwyneth Bolton said...

Sometimes I think one of the drawback of me reading as much as I do is that I try to write a different stories. I try to shake up the plot, etc. This is hard to do in romance. Romance readers come to the reading with certain expectations. But I think shaking it up can be good sometimes. It helps the genre to grow.


Patricia W. said...

Gwyneth's comment rings true for me. I read so much that the genre of the moment invariably affects what I'm working on. In fact, I've decided to be much more selective next year as I focus more on my writing.

But I think you're right. To the untrained eye, some authors make this whole writing thing appear easy, which is probably why so many folks believe they can do it with no problem. LOL! I'm sure they face challenges as they move between genres. They just do what you always encourage me to do...write.

Shelia said...

It's been awhile since I've been able to enjoy that pasttime...I recall pre-cable days on Sundays after church when it was too cold to go outside...and while the men watched football on one TV, my grandmother, my mama, myself and other women relatives would sit around and watch ice was enjoyable.

bettye griffin said...

Gwyneth, I'm going to paraphrase the infamous movie character Gordon Gekko (from Wall Street) and say, "Growth is good."

Pat, I'm having difficulty staying focused on even good books because I'd rather be writing, so I'll be joining you in narrowing my focus. There just isn't time, and I've got to get these stories out of my head and onto paper.

Shelia, Check out ESPN. They usually have skating at around 3PM on Sundays. I'm never sure if it's live or if it was pre-recorded. If it's the latter, it will probably continue through the holidays.

Thanks for posting, everyone!