I have my reservations about commenting like this. It’s difficult for me to do since most things I’ve learned in the past few years have taught me that commenting on what I’ve written usually doesn’t have the intended effect. I’ve seen too many interesting conversations dry up and too many interesting theories fade once I make an entrance to actually think that this is a good idea. The fact is, I think, that once the author chimes in people stop thinking whatever they were thinking and just go along with what the author says. Which is annoying. I have some inside information, obviously, but that doesn’t mean I know what you see when you read what I’ve written. In other words, I like it when new ideas are brought to my attention, I like seeing what other people make out of my details, I like hearing new theories about what I’ve written. I find it interesting. I believe strongly that the conversation that comes after reading a story is as much the point as anything. Unfortunately, I’ve seen nothing more effective at shutting down those conversations than me saying, “Here’s what I think.” Basically it seems as if I’m not allowed to play.Read more
The post below is the story for this week. Please do yourself a favor and open the post up, then click on the “Print This Post” line which will (hopefully) open the whole thing up in a printer friendly version. Then print it out. I, personally, think it’s a little crazy to try to read something as long as a short story on your computer.
I’ll be posting a more in depth recap sometime next week. I don’t know that I’ll do this often, but this story lends itself to a recap. I just wanted to give you some time to actually read it before I go trampling all over your thoughts with my observations.
If you see any typos (and there will, throughout the course of this project, be typos) please clue me in.
There’s a terrible moment not too long after you’ve finished a story where the elation of reaching your ending ebbs a bit and you’re left with the realization that now you’ve got to actually read the crap that you wrote. All those overly flowery sentences where you were being poetic, and all the random piles of details where you were feeling your way into a descent description, all the dialogue that goes nowhere, all of it, it all has to be read. By you. It’s horrible. It’s never a good idea to show your first drafts to anyone because they’re generally so awful, the problem is that at some point I have to read this thing in order for it ever to become a second or third draft.
Nobody should ever have to lay eyes on a first draft. That was his lesson.
First draft is done. I really just have no idea what this story is. I’ll give it a very brief once over now with the spell and grammar check, then print it out. I might give it a read tonight. On the other hand I’ve got a couple discs of The Wire sitting on my dresser. But all that’s left is a lot of reading. Ideally I would have more time to leave it alone so I could come back to it with the freshest eyes possible, but I don’t have that kind of time so I’ll just let it sit overnight, I guess, then read it over about ten times slowly with a pen in my hand tomorrow night. Exciting stuff.
Someday, hopefully sometime soon, I’ll be able to explain to you why I’m laughing so hard right now.
A few days ago I spoke about how I found it interesting to be writing a story that takes place in the dead of winter during the middle of summer. This was earlier in the week when it was still a balmy 90 degrees out. That seems like a joke to me right now. It’s currently the temperature of the sun’s ass and I can’t even remember what my name is not to mention what it feels like when the weather is cold. I’m going to go bathe in a tub full of ice-cubes and Gatorade and see what happens. God if only…
I had to go and brag about having only one scene left. Well. That was just stupid. I won’t be doing that again. So far I’ve rewritten part of this three times, taking three different attempts. It was too confusing at first, characters were performing actions only because I thought it would be neat instead of, you know, because it made sense for them to perform those actions. Also, I stumbled onto a character that turned into something more than I expected. That happens. You think you’ve got a character pegged and that they’ll step into the story, deliver a telegram or whatever, then disappear. Only they don’t. And you’ve got this character that won’t act like you want him to, and you know it would crush the entire scene if you forced him, so you just let him go. Large parts of these characters usually get trimmed during editing, but that’s only because I’m feeling my way through them and you have to trim to get down to a normal level. So, yeah, I’ve got one of those.
It’s hard to explain what it’s like trying to write when you in no way feel like it. I don’t feel very bright right now (my cold might be part of that). I don’t feel particularly witty. I don’t feel real smart. I don’t feel perceptive or interesting. I’m just kind of sitting here, and I have to string together a thousand words or so that you’re supposed to enjoy reading. Sometimes this whole process doesn’t make a lot of sense. I know more or less what I need to finish the scene, it’s not like I’m scared (my usual emotion when writer’s block sets in), I’m just here. I mean, it’s nine o’clock on a Monday. Who could possibly be interesting right now?
I don’t know how this always sneaks up on me, but for some reason I very often find myself thinking, “Oh good, only one scene left, I’m almost done,” and I never seem to catch on that the number of scenes left is basically irrelevant. This is a pretty long scene I’ve got left. Naturally that in no way occurred to me. No idea why. Stupid scene.
Plus it’s a “talky” scene, the whole point of the scene is the conversation that takes place within it and that can get weird. You have this conversation that you know you want to happen, and you have both sides basically worked out, or at least you know the angles, only you need something else as well. You need…I don’t know…filler I guess. Or toppings. Or padding. Or whatever you want to call it. You need a lead in. If you really want your characters to talk about transcendental existentialism, you can’t very well have one character turn to another character and say, “Gee this weather is cold. By the way, would you care to give me all the thoughts you have about transcendental existentialism?” People rarely dive into conversations. They lead up to them. So you need padding. But I’ve got a fever and I’ve written 1,000 words tonight so I’ll be coming back to this in the morning and I’m pretty sure I’ll leave the padding until the rewrites. It can be easier to add it in then sometimes.