Creativity · Poetry · Publishing · Writing

Bradbury Challenge Update 4 [Writing]

I’m still going strong with my personal challenge. I’ve written four short story drafts in nine weeks. Not bad. At this rate, I’ll have my next short story collection written much quicker than I expected.

Alone in the City opening sentence with laptop keyboard in the backgroundThis most recent story, “Alone in the City”, was another one that started in a dream. In fact, when I woke up the following morning I had the entire story in my head, start to finish. The first thing I did was rush to my laptop and write the opening paragraph and the last line. Those were the two anchors, providing me with a space to work in between.

This was also a rare occasion where I knew the ending of my story ahead of time and it didn’t change. Everything I wrote after the opening dovetailed nicely into the final sentence. And yes, I had a bit of an endorphin rush from that.

I enjoy having a deadline, but still giving myself time to breathe, to think, to let the stories form on their own without forcing them. It’s a sharp contrast to my day job, where I have to churn out creative copy with short turnaround times.

Not that I’m complaining. I think the two complement each other. I can get up in the mornings and have my creative time, writing a few hundred words for a story. Then, an hour or so later, I’m warmed up for the paid gig. It’s actually working in my favor.

Of course, at some point, I’ll have to stop writing new stuff and go back to rewrite and edit all these drafts. I think I’ll make that part of the challenge, as well. Instead of writing a draft every two weeks, I’ll edit a draft every week.

As I’ve noted on my blog and podcast, I like to let a story draft sit for a while after I’ve finished it. I’ve found that trying to edit immediately after writing is an exercise in futility. I’m still seeing the story fresh and that narrows my vision. I need to sit back, let it cool down, then come back to it so I can see it with fresh eyes on a wider scale.

I’ll write one or two more, then switch to edit mode.

And yes, still reading as much as I can fit into my days. I’ll admit, I haven’t been as diligent on that front. The book I’m reading, well, the stories are good, but I’ve been annoyed at all the typesetting issues. While I’ve come to expect that in e-books, it frustrates the hell out of me to find them in a printed version.

Weird font size changes, line breaks in the middle of paragraphs, missing indents, things like that all drive me nuts and take me out of the story. So yeah, I read a few pages then get annoyed and set the book aside.

Luckily, Leaves of Grass never disappoints. My slow-down there is due to re-reading poems. I love this collection so much that I’ll read the same poem a couple of times before moving on.

Speaking of which, here’s a short excerpt from one of my favorites, “Song of Myself”.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

Whitman was a painter of words, his canvas the blank page. I hope you find as much inspiration in his words as I do.

Now, back to writing.


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