Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

May 23, 2012

The side project on centre stage

Filed under: wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:59 am

I have one week left on my month of getting things done and so far the progress is a little on the dismal side. But I am not disheartened. There’s still time. And coffee. And now, happily, a new course of antibiotics. That will help.

On the accomplishments side of the equation, I have finished a very solid draft of a short story. I am becoming convinced it may be worth actually shopping around. Due to its somewhat ridiculous structure it’s likely that web-based magazines are its only viable home, but I’ve become aware in the last couple of days that there are actually quite a few of those around. So I will do a little more honing and then send it out into the wild to see if it can find its place in the wide world.

Not to get too far ahead of myself, but it would be a little ironic if this story actually became my first writing sale. When I started getting serious about writing my novel, it was with the intention that I knuckle down and commit myself to the (for me) hard work of writing, rewriting and rewriting again until the story was as good as it can be. After nearly a year of work [1], the finish line is not yet within sight. In a way that’s reassuring – I’m still plugging away at it, if somewhat sporadically, after all that time. That’s a level of commitment and determination I’ve never been able to muster before.

But along comes this story which started as a writing exercise and evolved as it went along into something with a beginning, middle and end. It poured out over two writing sessions with barely any thought put into it. I had Wikipedia open in a browser window but it would be a gross overstatement to claim that I did any real research. I just wrote what I thought would come next, did some editing (which actually probably took longer than the story, due to the aforementioned ridiculous structure) and sent it off to a couple of people for their comments [2]. I will run another editing pass over it to fix some mistakes and make some elements more clear, but other than that it is done.

I half-arsed it, in other words.

This is pretty much what I have always done with my writing – toss something together with lightning speed and as little higher-order thought as possible, spell-check it and declare it done. It’s basically the exact opposite of what I set out to achieve with writing my novel.

I’m happy with the result, don’t get me wrong. It’s a fun little story which builds a sense of tension as it goes [3]. I’m proud of it.

I just think I’m sending myself the wrong message about the appropriate amount of effort.

 

[1] The current novel-in-progress started as a short story that I began writing about 14 months ago while I was trying to figure out what was going wrong with my previous novel (now on indefinite suspension). It then turned into a novella, and then a novel. It’s now being rewritten as a slightly longer novel that bears no more than faint resemblance to the original short. My process could obviously do with some optimisation.

[2] My heartfelt thanks to Robert and Dr Clam for their generous feedback, which will make the final story much less incoherent than the first draft!

[3] I don’t feel that suspense-building is one of my strengths, so the fact that it seemed to come off on this occasion was a satisfying surprise.

2 Comments »

  1. Uh-oh, does this shopping around thing mean your #500 post is going to be a *different* unpublishable short story? Very good luck with it, by the way, and you’re welcome for the heartfelt thanks! 🙂

    Comment by The Once and Future Dr Clam — May 23, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

  2. Er, yep. On the plus side, its replacement will be something considerably less hoggish when it comes to screen real estate. But I think it will also be longer than a short flash fiction piece as well. I was tempted to post an excerpt from the first draft of the novel, but I couldn’t find one that I thought worked on its own. That was, of course, one of the problems with the first draft.

    Comment by lexifab — May 23, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

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