Thursday, February 01, 2007


The gold lace nudibranch
Halgerda terramtuentis
A mouthful of letters for a tiny creature that many SCUBA divers disregard or never see.
They are looking for dolphins.
For sharks.
The big guys.
And miss the sparkling beauty of the infinitesimal.
And writing is like this how?

7:30 am and 77 degrees. The seas have stilled. ORION is docile and stationary.
This particular photo of a nudibranch is one of fifteen on a roll of thirty-six (this is not digital boys and girls).
It is the best of the lot. Some were slightly out of focus. In others the nudibranch is cut off in the middle.
I was interested in the fluttery gills on the exterior of the body. But my intent was to get the nudibrach in the very center of the photograph.
It's close.
But not perfect.
My next photograph was closer.
And others closer still.
Do I read books about photography?
But I learn the most by actually taking photographs.
Hundreds and hundreds of photographs. Each one different. Each one unique. And each one taught me a bit more about photography.
My novel will never be perfect.
I've said it.
I know at some point in time I will have a better idea of how I could have phrased that sentence -- chosen that word -- created that scene so my reader would see with my eyes -- fully understand my intentions.
Ah but my next novel.
My next novel will be better still...and the next...and the next...
So that is my motto.
Learning by doing.
What is yours?
Oh and the answer to the question?
How is an elephant like a plum?
They are both purple.
Except for the elephant.


Heidi the Hick said...

My novel will never be perfect.

What a relief!

My husband records and mixes and he often says that he has to accept at some point that it's done, it's getting pressed, the cover art is done, and it's out of his hands. It's been a hard thing to learn. I'm not there yet.

Back to work!

Holly Kennedy said...

Oooh, I'm with you on this one! Often, when I'm writing, I tell myself: Relax. It's just book, and there will be MANY more! This unlocks me and then I push aside my perfectionism and go at it full tilt. (Love the picure, btw).

Maprilynne said...

I'm really with yu on the books vs. doing thing. I personally believe that you cannot teach someone to write. They either have a smudgin' (or more) of talent, or they don't.

On the other side of the coin (the coin yu cannot have Pat!) I think a telanted author who never studies her craft, will never be better than average.

I think it is such a combination. Talen mixed with study. And there can be varying degrees of each. Some people need a lot of luck and very little training, some need a lot of training, but once they get it, their talent takes off.

But classrooms do not an author make. Writing and talent and author makes.:)


Michelle Zink said...

Couldn't agree more.

I have learned more from my mistakes than I have my failures.

More from writing than listening to others tell me how to write.

More from reading, from learning the nuances and techniques of the craft and the ways others use them, than from books telling me how to to use them.

Great post, Pat!

adrienne said...

Learn by doing, always. It must be because we are going through the same timeline, but yesterday I posted on how my novel will never be perfect. I think I may have come to terms with it. It's weird, we keep writing about the same stuff, I love it!

I also like to live by the motto: "Run mad as often as you like, but do not faint!" It's from the film of Mansfield Park, and I think is a perfect phrase to live by.

Therese Fowler said...

Your pictures here are always wonderful, even if not perfect.

What IS perfection, anyway? Always in the eye of the beholder.

I'm with the crowd, here; the most, best learning will always come from doing.

We can *improve* through instruction, but we can't be made into things that we are not already, somewhere inside ourselves.

Perfectionism is something to strive for, and in striving we improve, which hopefully leads to acceptance. Satisfaction.

And then we go on and try to get even better the next time out.

Obsessive? Or just creative and a little bit ambitious?

Zany Mom said...

I think books can help, in the beginning, to give you an idea where to start. Really, you can read all about riding a bicycle, but until you climb onto the saddle and peddle away, you have no idea what the book really means, until you're actually *doing* it.

I'm glad I didn't read any writing how-to books until I had 120 pages under my belt. I reread it and realized it totally sucked. Only then could I set about exactly HOW my fave authors brought scenes to life. I remembered the scene, but not the actual words. When I dissected the words, I was amazed at how little was actually said, and how my imagination supplied the rest.

I didn't get how to show and not tell, until I had written, and then, only then, did it make sense. The first writing book I read was Noah Lukeman's Bringing Fiction to Life (or something like that! LOL) and it was immensely helpful AFTER I'd written.

Oops, getting redundant...

Kimber An said...

Sure, I learn by doing and I learn from my mistakes. But, I have avoided a LOT of pain in life by learning by watching someone else doing and learning from their mistakes.

Southern Writer said...

Beautiful little sea creature you have there.

My novel will never be perfect, but it can certainly be better. I'm going back to the drawing board.

ver: aualina
The heroine in a romance novel

Sam said...

Da Vinci said he learned technique so it would set him free. I think all art is like that.
Practice does make perfect...or at least improve, lol.
Love the photo of the nudibranch - what a cool creature!

ORION said...

I guess I'm starting a nudibranch fan club.
This perfectionism thing can certainly get in the way when finishing a first draft.
And certainly each step of the way you have to acquiesce and let go. I think I learned more from temporarily abandoning my first couple of novels and moving on. Recently I went back and revised one of my older works that had a premise I loved-- I used feedback by my agent and editor from Lottery.
I could see my much it was improved. There is much to be said for letting a novel sit.

Lisa, Amy, Hannah & Lynne said...

Your photgraphy is stunning. Apparently you're creative in many ways.

I'm also intrigued by the overlooked. Their stories are often the most intriguing.

Lovelypost, Pat.


ORION said...

Hey writers' blog -- thanks for chiming in. Yeah the "overlooked" can be wonderful for writers. I have been reading various blogs that discuss trying to come up with a new and unique premise -- I think writers try too hard sometimes.
They miss what's right under their own noses.

Anissa said...

I agree with you on letting a novel sit. I had been doing this already, but hadn't thought to do it with small revisions as well.

One agent suggested a revision that I felt was a perfect way to adjust the opening of my novel. (Something with which I had long struggled). I made the revision and emailed her back. Her response? Put it away for two weeks and then come back to it and fix what she "knew I'd find to fix." She was absolutely right. Time makes for fresh eyes and ideas.

ORION said...

When i read your comment, anissa, I am reminded of what I have to do to not be hasty about my revisions.
I think I will have to blog about this!

Anissa said...

Glad to be a sparkplug, Pat. I'm looking forward to your take on it!

Ann Collins said...


Your posts are timely for me. I am tempted to revise (again) the now eighth draft of the first half of my "first draft" as I work on my outlining project. I promise to smack my own hand and to remember the words "learn well little grasshopper".

Today though, no writing (or work of any kind) will be done in the City of Indianapolis

ORION said...

Oh I like that! Sparkplugs.
Ann it's good to hear from you!
Yeah keep on keeping on!

ORION said...

And how is an elephant like a plum anyway?