Metamorphic Rock

Metamorphic rock results from the transformation of pre-existing rock which is subjected to high heat and pressure, causing structural and chemical changes. Marble, a stone often used for sculpture, is metamorphic rock.

There’s no such thing as a pure first draft in my world. Unless I’m writing very short fiction, less than 2,000 words, I don’t begin at the beginning with an outline or a seat-of the pants inspirational process and work straight through to the end.

I’d like to be a pure “pantser” but I have dysgraphia, the equivalent of dyslexia on the output end. Almost every word I type comes out with the letters scrambled. Even the spacing gets disordered. (I gave this disability to one of my characters and used it to provide a clue in Snake Face.) When I’m on a roll, I produce material that stumps spell-check, so I have to go back every few paragraphs and clean up promptly while the intended meaning of my gibberish is fresh in my mind. As I correct the typos, I can’t help noticing word choices, sentence structure and dialog that need revision. I’m what’s been called a “write-it-or.” Result: polished scenes that sometimes need to be cut from the story. Rather than delete them completely, I save them in various files for recycling.

Writing is artistic. It’s also geologic. I’m not only carving a final product from the block of stone that is my work in progress, I’m forming that rock myself.

Parts of it are sandstone, sedimentary rock layered gradually into place over years of collecting these scenes I didn’t use, as well as characters, settings, and ideas for murder-less mysteries. Other parts of the rock are igneous intrusions, hot surges of molten inspiration erupting from my creative source, the hidden place like the deep core of the earth. The metamorphosis occurs when heat from this process contacts the surrounding rock or when there are tectonic shifts or other sources of high pressure. Books and classes and blogs on the craft of writing apply some of that pressure.

Finding the essence of the story, I carve the stone I’ve built up. Critique partners help me reshape it. And then I cut, cut and cut some more. Sometimes I need to add material—back to forming the rock–and then sculpt again.

Amber in tree final

7 thoughts on “Metamorphic Rock

  1. I know someone else with this disorder and it makes writing very difficult for him. I think you have managed to conquer the challenge and admirably. As always, your writing is intermingled with clever metaphors and that is quite a talent; you manage to create an image and successfully weave it into your message.


      1. That is really interesting, and something I know nothing about. I know it had become a popular major years ago; I was always interested in marine biology and got accepted to U.of Hawaii at the end of my sophomore years ( of psychology); ..However, I am still very interested in the field.


  2. Writer/producer Stephen Cannel had dyslexia. In college he finally found a college instructor who saw the ideas behind the typos and he encouraged Stephen with his writing. I think writers with “challenges” simply find a way to work with their abilities and give themselves a little more time and patience. Congrats on finding the way that works for you.


  3. Amber, great post! Have you thought about using a product that you could record your story and it types the words. I think one is called Dragon? You would have less to clean up in the end with something like that I would think.

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    1. That’s been suggested to me before, but I don’t create fiction by talking. After hearing my own voice all day as a professor and yoga teacher, I need silence to contact my writer-mind. I don’t actually consider my disability to be a limitation. It simply makes me work in my own way. My editor says my work is the cleanest she gets from any author. I might not have made it clear, I’m happy with my odd process.


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