Saturday, May 3, 2008

Two Brains

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter."  ~James Michener

I'm fully into rewrites these days, as are many of the Pixies.  I've discovered that I have two types of brain: Creative Brain and Rewrite Brain.  Creative Brain is a thrill seeker, devil-may-care type.  She likes to try anything, writing with big flourishes in multicolored ink.  "Oh, just throw it in there, we'll work it out later."  She's a big fan of "what if" and "how about" and "ooo look!"  She's got an energy about her - breezy and vigorous, obsessive and joyful and crazy.  

Rewrite Brain, on the other hand, is a more methodical soul.  She looks at things through a pair of half-moon reader glasses, a carefully chosen black pen in her hand.  She is a big fan of "oh really, are you sure about that?"  and "how does this character really feel about that?" and even sometimes "what the hell were you thinking?"  

I had thought that it was most important not to let these two ladies spend too much time together.  After all, they are at odds with each other - for every two building blocks of story Creative Brain builds, Rewrite Brain pulls down three.  Or so it seemed.  

Lately, though, I've been letting them play together.  Cautiously of course, but it seems to be OK.  Better than OK, really.  You see my first draft was a house of blocks built entirely by Creative Brain.  It was an OK house, but structurally shaky, and there were holes in the roof.  I tried to keep Creative Brain out of the process when I began to revise, allowing Rewrite Brain to push the blocks around and make what she could.  Problem was, when Rewrite Brain began to ask her questions, Creative Brain pushed her way back into the project, not just to answer the question but to suggest complete project overhauls.  

I balked at this at first - no way was I going to take all the detours suggested by Creative Brain.  I had my house, it just needed some tweaking.  Rewrite Brain was there for that.  But some of the suggestions were good, better than the original.  I began to see the finished product in my mind, and it was very, very pretty.  

So I've let them work together, my two brains.  We've had to rip a lot down and we've had to even redo some of the blueprints, but it's coming along.  And I must say, it's going to be beautiful . . . 


1 comment:

Laura Bradley Rede said...

Nola, I'm reminded of how we go about introducing our cat to a new foster cat: Always have a door between them but put a string under the door, hoping each cat will play with her own end-- contact without contact, interaction without the chance of anyone losing an ear. That's pretty much been my approach to letting the two sides of my brain "play". I don't want my inner editor to beat up on my creative side, or my creative side to overpower the sensible editor. But your post encouraged me to open the door a crack. I'll let you know if the fur flies :)