I’m feeling very positive at the moment. I wish I could bottle this so I could inhale the perfume when I’m depressed and frustrated with my work.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past day polishing the short story. Most of it was tweaks, to make certain points explicit, or to highlight a couple of nuances.
The story ended up being a bit longer, even though I cut it in places. I’m always resistant if my short stories lengthen during the re-write process. The story is 5,400 words, which is a bit hefty for my liking. However, sometimes a story has to be a certain length, and it can be damaged by curtailing it. In this regard I have to learn to ignore my desire for brevity, and instead pay attention to my gut instinct about the natural arc of the story. It’s not always evil to build a certain atmosphere or mood in a story, as long as it is engaging and sucks in the reader (rather than boring him/her).
I wish I could write more stories in the 2-3K ballpark. That’s the kind of word count that almost any market will accept. Once you wander over the 4K line it becomes problematic.
Writing this story has been a revelation. I had no plot, outline, theme, or characters when I started. All I had was the first line. It was inspired by Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, and his description of the Paris ghetto he lived in. I made the decision to just start writing, and see what happened. I hoped for a story that was 2-3K, and became frustrated when it arrived at that point and I realised there was more to write. Writing without any outline had its problems, because it stalled me for at least a week and I abandoned the story. Then I attempted to plot forward a little, just to keep me going. This helped me get over my umbrage with the story for making me work harder than I initially wanted. Once I started writing I deviated from the outline because that’s not where the story wanted to go.
Yet, I ended up with a story and characters that are interesting, exotic (and I think), imaginative. I really have no idea from where this story flowed. Now I can see the larger picture, and the bigger world that these people occupy. There’s potential for more adventures and exploration if I ever want to bring the world to life.
I have learned a good lesson. I need to trust myself a lot more. Sometimes I have to shut down the analytical part of my brain, and fully engage my imagination without trying to second-guess it or restrict it. By allowing it free reign it has surprised me. If it does that to me, then perhaps it will also surprise the reader.
I consider this a good sign, and a step forward, because it means I’ve been exercising my imagination enough that it has a certain independence. Part of my brain knows this storytelling lark better than “I” do.
Maybe it will give me lessons…