In the comment trail of the previous post, Mssr. Bastard kicked my butt about an article I had given up on. I considered that he possibly had a point, went back and re-read the several-thousand-words I’d written so far, and realized that they were confused, scattershot crap. It was no wonder I’d been struggling with the article for three weeks before giving up on it.
But the initial topic seemed sound. So I threw out the thousands of words I’d written and started over. Gave the thing a sectioned-up structure, so that when I started again, it would be both clearer and better organized.
It’s proceeding nicely. I’m trucking away on it. I hope to have it done-and-up tonight.
I owe Mister Bastard a drink.
The most amazing thing happened this past week. Possibly The most important thing to happen in my writing career to date. Possibly second-most important, right next to last November when I started handwriting all my fiction, thus discovering the joy of it again, as well as producing stories that had some thought put into them along the way.
This new thing happened this week, and it was Editing & Revising.
I know it sounds so boring and dull. I’ve never been particularly keen on either one of those things. (Partially because I never had use for it in the early bits of my writing life, and never got around to learning about it, the way I learned about other things; that was one atrophied muscle).
Some switch I wasn’t trying to flip actually flipped in my head this week. I took the story I had just finished and read it over and over again, out loud and recorded and so forth. I took two pages of microscopic, detailed notes about the story. I thought about it some more, took more notes.
And then I sat down at the computer and wrote a whole new draft, fixing every issue I had and expanding the thing. Humanizing it, making it something you might invest in. Giving it a voice you can care about.
Took it from 2,000 words up to 5,200 words. And then I cut 520 of those words (10%) yesterday. (Someone gave me that advice years ago: just calculate 10% of the story and cut that, mechanically and ruthlessly. And I do. The effect is always useful. And it’s purely a mechanical task, which is also helpful).
Sent it off to someone yesterday. I’ll find out if they want it before tonight as well, I suspect.
This was a huge deal, though. I was so excited. It feels like I’ve finally gotten all the parts — handwriting, note-taking, idea-having, revising-and-editing — into my engine, and now it’s finally ready to run the car.
The story was the first one I’ve been 100% proud of, across-the-board. I took a good idea and realized it, and then polished it and armored it up until it really felt like something that could go out into the world.
I’m pretty proud. And happy. It’s difficult to convey the significance of this. Presumably, everyone else is going “yes, editing? so?” but. Well. Big thing for me.
The third topic is, I’ve been thinking about the arrival of my second son, in a couple of weeks (less than that! aaah!). I remember how badly the arrival of my first son, Zach, disrupted everything. (Through no fault of his own, and I hardly resent him for it; it’s what kids do. I don’t mind. But it did happen.) I worry about that. The arrival of Zach took an already ailing ability to write and shattered it, and pulped it, and more or less wrecked me as a writer for two years, mostly because I just didn’t have the discipline or technical ability to buckle down and continue writing.
On the one hand, I doubt things will be disrupted as badly this time around. We went from no-kids to one-kid. Now we’re going from one-kid to some-kids. You know? It’s a different life change. I’m used to the different hours, to having someone around I’m taking care of. All of that.
What I mostly think about is, I need to get this list of short stories — some of them complicated — off my plate for the next child arrives. I want to get the short stories taken care of and be back to working on the novel, “Save Us.”
The reasoning is, with a short story, you’re inventing everything each time you write a new short story. New voice, new world, new people, new theme, new everything. With a novel, you’ve done all that and you’re just clocking and out every day, trying to keep the thing rolling. I can do that with a new baby, I suspect, easier than trying to construct short stories.
Maybe, maybe not. It’s just the instinctive feel. So I’m sort of thinking about how to do lots of short stories in that time.
I can’t, of course. The list has a dozen shorts on it. There’s no way. Not with any degree of quality, and especially not now that I’ve got this wonderful Editing & Revising Augment to my character, now that I’ve leveled up.
Still, it’s something that crosses my mind. I do worry about how my writing will go with my wife off on maternity leave (which I look forward to, mind you) and a new baby in the house (also looking forward to it, sorta mostly as much as you ever are) and in-laws and parents around doing that thing where they try to be helpful by being in the way, and so forth.
Who knows, maybe I’ll get nothing written and just blog obsessively.
Oh well. I’ll figure it out. Lots of people continued to write through problems an awful lot worse than “had a son,” for chrissakes. If Stephen King can write with a shattered hip after being hit by a van, I can probably go ahead and tough it out. It isn’t exactly a struggling-up-from-the-ghetto story, is it?
Whoops. Tea’s ready. Time for me to go write a SF Signal article.