Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Writing is War

Imagine this turned left
As a potential housemate I had to take the Keirsey personality test, the owner and builder of the house in Austin, Texas, said. Odd, I thought, I had local references, and they were good. He explained it wasn't about whether I was cheerful and trustworthy, but whether I would fit in with the geeks who occupied the other rooms in the bee-hive-like structure he had designed and build himself.

If he had his concerns, I had mine. No AC because the house was build to funnel air from top to bottom? No heat either (it was February and cold), because he had calculated one light bulb combined with the body heat of the occupant would warm the hexagonal cells? Yes, he was a mathematician. His former fellow students, friends, and housemates were computer freaks, and I had to promise I would not share —outside the walls of the beehive— what was created inside. As though I would understand what I saw, I thought. I, who tried to grapple the MS-DOS code of my Commodore 64. That I used a laptop was a plus point in the household though, that much was clear.

The outcome of the test said I was a Field Marshall. Not bad, my future landlord said, not bad at all, as long as I would keep everybody's stuff alone and mind my own business and not try to re-organize. With that he handed me a key, no need to sign a contract or pay a deposit. It wasn't that he had no business sense —for goodness sake, the guy financed a local upstart, started by fellow students at U.T. called Whole Foods— he knew about watching his nickel.

Looking into The 4 Temperaments I can see how being an Abstract Utilitarian or Rational Field Marshall affects my way of writing. And it somewhat explains how I've been able to work on different books within one manuscript. What would drive any other person crazy comes to me naturally. Which doesn't mean it's easy.

I've been working on three projects, overseeing developments across-the-board, moving each forward. Probably makes no sense to others, but since all of the material comes from the same source, a monster manuscript, it makes sense to me.

Right now some troops are on furlough, and I'm proceeding with just one commando. Yes, there's a war-like strategy to my way of writing! I'm deepening my novel's main character's love interest's part for greater balance in the book. At the moment I'm writing the whole story from her p.o.v. instead of the previous M.C.'s. We'll see where this leads.

I have a feeling this strategic move will help me win one of my word wars not to long from now. Are you following me?

This work by by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Anastasia said...

Yow, you're right, Judith, most people would not be able to work in that way. Funny story about Austin!

Judith van Praag said...

Mind you, the Field Marshall aims to paint an optimistic picture of the lay-out of the land and project(s). Even she at times loses sight of all the troops, if only because they have a tendency to fall in the big black hole called computer.
In other words, taking leave of absence for just a week or two, or working on some other projects, or reading a book, can mean having to reacquaint myself with my organizational system.

As for Austin and organization, I did quite soon after moving in inquire where the cleaning supplies were. Why? the landlord asked. I'd like to clean the shower floor (a walk in tiled cave with shower heads all around).
Don't have any, he said, always wash the floor with shampoo.