It pains me beyond measure to have to tell you that I come to you today with empty hands. I do not have the first part of my short story ready to share with you. My stomach is in knots just typing that. But, anything I share has to be right. It has to be something that I have enough confidence in, confidence that I haven’t just hurled words on a page to get over a finish line. They have to be the right words, in the right order and ready to be unleashed on the public. My muse, if I have one, however, as well as life in general, was working against me.
Before you groan in disappointment, or worse, throw your hands up in disgust, let me share with you what I’ve been doing in the past three weeks (in between panic attacks).
When C. C. and I were talking about the notion that I take a scene from our works-in-progress and expand it, I was excited about the prospect. I thought I knew exactly what I would do and which scene I would use. My grand idea was so brilliant (yes, you may roll your eyes), I knew it could even serve a dual purpose. I would write the story and share it with you good people and also get it out of my system and let it go – without having to worry about where it fit, if it ever really did, in the grand scheme of our books. So I reread the scene in question, eager to get started…and then the wheels fell off the bus.
You see, this was a scene I had been particularly proud of it. You know the saying, “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader”? Well, I had had tears a’plenty when I wrote and then rewrote, read and reread this scene. I know I did. More than one person who’d read it felt the same. Maybe it was context, I don’t know. It was also more than four years ago. Not only did I not have “all the feels” this time, I didn’t even like it. Moreover, thanks to all of the “how-to” books and blogs I’ve read in the intervening years, I immediately recognized it for what it was: a data dump, a huge artery-clogging blob of backstory and information stuck in the middle of a scene. No wonder my two co-writers couldn’t understand my reluctance to cut it. (I’m a little slow sometimes.)
So, after spending a lot of time rereading and thinking everything I’d ever written was crap and that obviously I’ve been deluding myself, I gave myself a mental slap –
then got angry and frustrated because I couldn’t come up with anything else, which, of course, only served to prove that I am actually a fraud…when finally, inspiration struck.
I began again to scribble on whatever piece of paper was handy, as we writers do. I now have enough scraps to give me at least a semi-clear vision of what I think this story will be.
I can tell you that I know who my characters are, what the setting will be, how they’ll meet and what their conflict is. I even have a title (and no, I won’t tell you. Yet.) What I don’t know is how it ends. I’m sure “my people” will tell me. Eventually. Thanks for your continued patience* and, dare I say it, faith.
I shall return.
*Especially C.C. and K.R.