Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's All in the Details

 I'm constantly amazed, and at times a bit discouraged, at how the "vision" of the story, how I first see it in my head, can be so lacking in words, even after umpteen-hundred drafts.  I always think it's all there, playing out like a movie, and if a reader could just see it like I do, they would feel what I do.  But it can't be shared until so much more is captured.  That comes, of course, with the details. 

Actually, there are similarities to this capture of information in my day job. My job title is that of a Detailer.  No, nothing to do with cars.  What I do in my office job at a window treatment/bedding workroom is basically translate the orders from designers into instructions for the workroom to follow.  It's like having a foot in two creative, the other logical.  On the design side, the ideas are often impractical and lacking in the details.  I'm constantly pulling the details from the designer's ideas because this is what the workroom needs to make them a reality.  And I often think it's ironic that the designer will often provide the minimal amount of information and say, just work your magic.  To their way of thinking, the details of construction is magical.  I get that.  Because in the topsy-turvy world of any creative person, the vision is often far more real than the execution.

So, in many ways, it's a pretty good match for someone who thinks like a writer, because we tend to switch between creative and logical (i.e., being an editor) all the time.  Many of our ideas are impractical, and that's okay.  But we also have enough sense to wish for the practical.  That's okay start out with.

Back to the day job.  About 40% of the time, and growing, the work orders follow a formula.  There are "standards" to follow and my job is basically double-checking.  These products will please the masses.  Of course, there is money in formulas.  They take less time because there is much less reinventing the wheel.  The details are established and they aren't going to change much from one project to another.  Essentially, the task is pretty much locked in to end as it begins.  It simply has no where to wander.  (Yes, the IT Department did there job very well.)

Which part of the job do you think I enjoy more?  It's the other 60% of the time, of course.  I hate to admit it, but the other 40% of the time I get bored and want to beat my head against the desk.  I need those days when the details do change with the project.  It takes time.  It takes research.  It takes sketches and conferring with several different people to get as many points of view as possible to figure out if the impractical can be done.  In the end it's satisfying because most of the time, the less a project started with, the more it will become unique.

So, back to wearing my writing hat, after the initial panic of wondering "where do I go from here?" when a story doesn't seems like it has nearly enough to show for the vision, this is when I try to find encouragement from adding the details.  With each embellishment, with each experiment with a different POV, with each impracticality smoothed out so the story can get from Point A to Point B without the reader feeling like they fell through a black hole...well, eventually the characters, setting and plot are customized.  And, thank goodness, along with the details, the word count grows.

Writing, I think, requires a lot more attention to detail than we feel comfortable with providing.  It may seem, during the first attempts, as though someone -- and that someone has no imagination! -- is trying to force the details.  But I think it's kind of cool to think how a writer is basically a translator, so to speak, between creativity and logic.  Whose to say which side has the most imagination?  I guess you are!

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