The Under Ground Writing Project

Making writers right since 2008.

Notes from Under Ground Post New Entry

Frank Lloyd Wright and his work of genius

Posted by John Ridge on November 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM

In college, I once heard an old story about Frank Lloyd Wright about a time when a friend came to visit his office studio. This was at a point in his career when people were speaking his name more often, and the buildings he designed were becoming the stuff of legend. At the time of the visit, there was a massive drawing on his desk that he had just finished rendering for presentation. His friend marveled at the ideas and concepts that were presented in the physical form of the building, as well as the craftsmanship of the drawing.

After a minute or two, his friend said, "My goodness, you are a genius to be able to create something like this from just paper, pencil lead, and imagination."

Wright looked at his friend, and opened the wide drawer underneath the desk drawing board. In the drawer sat a stack of tracing paper easily the thickness of a novella. He pulled the stack of paper out, and spread the them apart. Each one depicted a different version of the same building. The ones closer to the top were looked more and more like the one on the desk. With each iteration, there was a purging of weaknesses, and a refinement of strengths.

"I don't know about genius," Wright said. "But I sure went through a lot of paper."

That's part of the reason why I'm doing NaNoWriMo with pen on paper this year, rather than fingers on a keyboard. There's a certain sense of accomplishment in being able to see a rising stack of papers which creates a certain snowball effect of motivational momentum. Slowing it down also gives me chance to work out things and construct the sentences with a little more craft. Plus, I'm writing on the backside of the pages of critiqued First Drafts. A sort of "The Second Draft shall be born upon the carcass of the First Draft," thing. Waste not, want not, and all that.

I once read an article in Grossly Generalized Things That Might Be Made Up But They Sound True Magazine that said a lot of creative projects that go on to become iconic or memorable go through a lot of refinement and perfecting before they are released to an audience. It is quite rare for something special to materialize on the first try requiring little work done to it. Think about that one tattoo you got on that place you don't want people to see because that one night in Vegas was the night you were working on your spontaneity (I read that in GGTTMBMUBTSTM as well). Not as many people remember Count Duckula as fondly as you, do they?

Anyway, this is really just a post to remind you that NaNoWriMo is still going on, if you're not doing it this year, I encourage you to do it next year. Once it's done, I also encourage you go through a lot of paper before you submit it to anybody who doesn't know you. Or even people who do know you. Let them all think you're a natural genius and not someone with huge stacks of paper hidden away.

Now, quit reading this and go write something.

Categories: NaNoWriMo, Writing Process

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Reply Jenny Maloney
5:15 PM on November 6, 2012 
A few month ago, I decided that I would print out the new, updated version of my WIP on the back of critiqued copies - also a "carcass" using method. And paper saving (which was really my goal).

I have now torn through all of THAT paper. It is very satisfying to see all that inked up, no-white-space anywhere paper. Feels like progress.
Reply Ali
11:04 AM on November 7, 2012 
I love the visual of the stack of pages, each one more refined than the last. Very cool.

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