Once more onto the beach, or however that saying goes.
I dutifully took my two weeks(ish?) off from SERIOUS writing to let the mind decompress and drift back into its natural jellylike state after four months of grind, but today is the day I pick it up again and continue whipping my word-vomit into something approaching Prose Worth Reading.
As with virtually every writing or otherwise creative project I have ever undertaken, the choosing was the hardest part. For better or worse, choose I have, and now I press on with the goal of expanding one of my recent Flash Fictions into a fuller, more developed short story. I’m aiming for about ten thousand words, just as a ballpark sort of area I’d like to land in, but if it runs long or short that won’t upset me terribly. I’m not sure what the real goal will be as far as what I’d like to do with this one when it’s written, but I want to try out a length in between these little lightning strikes I’m spitting out every week and another full-length heartstomper like the novel has been. Ten thousand words seems a nice happy medium, and when I’m finished with that, it will perhaps be time to start back in on editing Accidentally Inspired.
If you’re curious (why wouldn’t you be?!) I’m going to be expanding my entry from a couple of weeks ago, Powdered Chaos. I feel like I scratched the surface of something really interesting with that one and I think it’s worth the time to delve into that particular cave and see what squishy bits of sweetmeats I can deliver back to the colony. What’s that? “Sweetmeats” aren’t what I think they are?
Okay, a sweetmeat is, of all things, a pastry. The word I was thinking of was “sweetbread”, which for some reason is the name for pancreas. English is a whimsical old thing, innit?
Anyway, I’ll be delving that particular cave over the next several weeks, with a much more reasonable goal of 600 words daily. 900 was a great goal for the novel, and I may use that as a benchmark in future times of novel writing dementia, but there were more than a few days when I started wanting to chop down trees with my keyboard after word 600. Keyboards not being a particularly effective cutting implement, that’s the kind of impulse I’d like to, y’know, steer away from. So. 600 words, five days a week, that’s about four weeks to turn Powdered Chaos into something that’s… well, something. This is all experimental; don’t look at me if a zombie goliath of stitched-together story bits and half-formed ideas begins roaming the countryside and devouring your livestock and KILL IT WITH FIRE.
First day (night actually) of working on this one went swimmingly. I chalk it up to my run this morning. No, seriously.
I decided this was the project I wanted on Thursday but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about expanding it. Start farther out front? Deal with multiple characters and their interaction with the thing? Maybe continue on past the one outlined in the story? It was a problem and I was blocked.
As I’ve mentioned before, Past Me would hit a roadblock when writing and park the car, slash the tires and hitchhike back to town, abandoning the vehicle to looters and hobos. New Me has no truck with blocks; he drives right at them with the brights on and the horn sounding its dopplerized war cry, and if the block is still there when I get around to my writing that day, well then WE’RE BOTH GOING DOWN. Writing tonight was a given. The how and the what and the whatever would come to me. So I laced up. (Actually I strapped up because my Vibrams don’t have laces, but… yeah, “strapped up” sounds a little bit like… okay let’s just move on.)
It was a rainy morning, so I left the sprout at home. Also because of the raininess of the morning I didn’t take my headphones with me (they are a bright shiny BIRTHDAY GIFT and I am not ready to ruin them yet even though they are life-altering and awesome and give me wings). Imagine! Running completely unfettered by forty pounds of toddler + stroller and undistracted by mindless thumping dubstep! I’ve not had such a run in months and I desperately miss it.
Running without distractions is something I always say I’m going to do more often and never actually get around to doing much at all, but I maintain that the experience is peerless when it comes to solving problems personal and mental. So I’m hoofing it and enjoying the quickest pace I’ve had on a run in a while and delighting in the mist on my face and now and then pondering the question of what I’m going to do when I come up against this roadblock in actually starting the thing and then I get this idea, like a midget was following right on my heels and hopped up on my back and whispered in my ear so softly I could barely hear it, “point of view.”
And I cocked my head and pondered on that, because it’s not a complete sentence after all, but when ideas drift into my head on a run they usually do it for some sort of reason and I always at least try poking at them to see if they bite back. “Point of view?” I pondered. No answer. The various Me’s bouncing around in my head only answer when they feel like it, or when I’ve had a few adult beverages. And I run and I ponder, run, ponder. It hits me that the point of view in that story is wrong. Not wrong like five is not the answer to two plus two, but wrong like whitewall tires on a tractor. The thing still runs, but it ain’t optimal.
So, change it. But to what?
Well, I won’t spoil it yet, but needless to say, the point of view has been changed, and in a way that I hope will be both surprising and satisfying. And I got a cool 750 words in tonight without breaking a sweat, but of course that should be tempered immediately because the honeymoon is just getting started with this thing.
At any rate, lesson learned. There has not yet been a day when I’ve had a run and not felt better about my writing at the end of it. It’s a lesson I keep learning and somehow keep forgetting, so THIS POST should serve as a reminder to any and all Future Me’s: Next time you get blocked, or think you might get blocked, or even think you might think about the possibility that in some future eventuality you could possibly get blocked, just lace up. (Or strap up. No, just lace up and adjust for your needs.) The road and your feet and the void will go to work on the problem and before you know it, you’re home and ready for a shower and a good write.