Monday, July 25, 2011

Another finish(ed) line

Sitting in front of me is the second draft of a story I wrote on Saturday. Within me there is a somewhat comfortable certainty in regards to the stack of white paper, printed on one side, with one inch margins and standard font, but such was not the case this past weekend.

This weekend I found myself looking around, pondering the great volume of free time I found myself gifted with as a result of having completed the drafts of the novels. There was no duress, or even a lukewarm need. I didn't have to do anything, at least anything that resulted from a rigorous regimen. I was free, finally free, to do whatever I pleased. It was more than a little terrifying. I knew that I wanted to start on the story, and had even driven somewhere and scribbled down presaging notes in a spiral notebook in preparation. I also decided that I would work on making the third book of the Where Shadows Lie series presentable enough for submission and send that off. But it was all so much like it was back in January with me sitting around waiting for it to all just magically happen. I was reminded of the sad truth that nothing would happen if I didn't do it myself.

So I did.

And it was a strange affair, writing the story that was so much shorter than the novels I had been pounding my way through. I imagined it was a bit like running a marathon and then sprinting. Marathons, or novels, occur in pieces for me. How the race is to be run, how fast in what stages, is decided upon ahead of time, planned out carefully and cautiously, and each part benefits from the experience of running. After that, it's just a matter of putting one leg in front of the other, not giving up, sticking to the plan with the confidence that when it's all done, it will be a good time. Short stories are more like sprints: there's much less track to work with, and it's all done in the same mode, the same voice, which for me requires it to be drafted in the same sitting. Changing gears in that way was a little disorienting. Halfway through I found myself a little put off and disgusted at how the story was dragging, continuing for much longer than one of my chapters. I had to write my way into a different rhythm.

But, and this seems to be normal, when I woke up this morning and read through it, the first draft wasn't nearly as bad as I thought while writing it.

And now the difficult part begins. Really, I suppose the best thing is always to print the work out, run over it with a pen, but I think it becomes more important the shorter the writing is. So this is me spending those hours, going over it line by line, page by page, step by lunging step. Race by race.

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