Saturday, February 13, 2021

I Can’t Write (An Essay about Writing)

I Can’t Write

(An Essay about Writing)

by Jarla Tangh

I am a Pantser. Pantser means writing to enjoy the journey and getting messy and seeing where the journey takes us. I am in a writing group with a Plotter.

When I put my latest Pantsing effort in for critique, I learn over and over again that I do not have a story. I don’t have the means to transport my reader into my world and have them want to stay there.

Sometimes, I do.

But it’s not often enough for a Plotter. If the story works, it turns out to be hit-or-miss in the Plotter’s opinion. I am fine with not knowing. For me, part of the delight comes in discovering: what am I trying to say? I take in the feedback from someone else who read it and they tell me where they didn't get it.

If I knew what I wanted to say, the impetus for writing it out becomes null and void. It makes me wonder if the other Pantsers have brains like mine. I do not live by goals, or beats, or structures. I begin with a character in a situation and follow her/him to wherever they end up. I also have a hard time with writing short stories. Did I mention that?

I prefer writing longer. It takes me time to wind up and I have to have a good ramble through a lot of sentences with adjectives, gerunds, and fragments before I have something.

If I am lucky, I really enjoy polishing my story when I am writing it, after it sits, and then polishing my story again. I suppose at that point is when I should share it with a Plotter.

Perhaps not.

I will have to write for me. I am who started me on this writing business. I wrote because I wanted to see something I wasn’t seeing. Because I’ve never seen it before may be part of the reason I don’t have the next steps for it or the escalating progression of cause and effect.

This is not an apology for being a Pantser. It’s simply my reality.

‘Nuff said.

—Her Tangh-i-ness