Friday, November 29, 2013

The thick, dead line

Late again with the blog, but I haven't been slacking, either. The story was drafted, successfully, I think. I shared it with half a dozen people and got an equal amount of varied ideas and opinions. Not that I needed a reminder that ultimately, the only person that had to be happy with it is me. Still, I know an eclectic bunch of readers, and writers, those who do it for hobby, those who do it professionally, and academically.

It was the third draft that I ended up passing around. The feedback was reminiscent of earlier stories. No one said it was bad, but I got about as many good comments, too. Pauses, confused faces, and frowns. It helped a lot. It was the process of actually writing it that was fairly frustrating. Normally, I think about a story, I sketch out pertinent details, I think, and I mull, and I percolate, and I introspect. Then, when I'm fit to bursting, I sit down and I write. It's rough, and not fit to show to anyone, but front to back it is a completed draft.

Not this time. I mentioned before that I had simply failed to finish it. I got to a certain point, and just stopped. I was frozen by indecision about what I should say next. With the pressure of grad school apps, I pushed. I got a little more done, but it still wasn't done. I pushed again. Eventually, I got to the end of the draft, and I spent some days trying to clean it up, smooth the the edges, and sand the rough spots. That's what I showed to my readers.

The problem, which the feedback helped me realize, is that I had rushed the latter bits I had written. I was accused of being a minimalist back in college, and I've always been accused of toeing the line between not saying enough, and only saying the satisfactory amount. I get apoplectic at the prospect of over-telling. At times (read: often) this creates a need for "unpacking." Tightly wound concepts are mentioned in clipped terms and are never mentioned again, creating the reader a lot of distress in regards to juggling understanding of the ideas and consuming others, sort of like having to unwrap food while chewing on it.

I ended up adding about 600 words in an effort to better explain things. I have a few weeks until the first application is due, so I've fallen short of my "done by turkey day" goal, and I likely will not make my "done by December" goal either. Maybe I'm a procrastinator? What I am more sure about is being happy all of this is winding down, that I'm slowly checking things off, with an end in sight. I miss writing with vague, and personal deadlines. No account names or PIN numbers or passcodes or big, red, bold, underlined letters.

And even though it would be a good question to wonder what I'm signing up for, if I like being beholden to myself, I am still excited about the prospect of starting the next chapter of my development. I'm also starting to understand why good things can be better than interesting things.

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