Well, folks, as you can see, I am posting this on the evening of Thursday, May 18, 2023, from my little corner of the Tampa Bay area. Usually, I post early in the day – between late morning and early afternoon when I’m not working on a project, or as early as possible in the morning to get blogging out of the way so I can do “real” writing (this time, I’m writing my second work of self-published fiction).
I either didn’t sleep well or I’m stressing over The New Story – whether it’s any good, whether it’s going to be as good as Reunion: A Story, whether it’s going to sell at least 20 copies and earn good reviews, and whether I’ll be happy with it when I’m finished writing it – because I woke up at my usual early hour (between 5:30 and 6:35 AM), but tired. I felt eerily like I used to on the rare occasions when I had to work until late at night on a research paper when I was in college back in the…yikes! Mid- to late 1980s!
I don’t remember staying up till the wee hours of the morning, nor did I toss and turn restlessly on my futon. All I can tell you is that even after I had breakfast at 7 AM or so, I felt listless. Sleepy as fuck. And not at all in an “ooh, I’m going to write 1,000 – or more – words today!” mindset.
Not that my goals for today were unrealistically ambitious; all I was shooting for when I started working on The New Story was to write one short scene (around 500 words, more or less) to finish the eighth chapter of my book. (I don’t want to call it a specific type of book, like a “novella” or “novel” just yet, although from the page count so far it might end up being the latter type, albeit a short one.) I don’t do the “outline thing,” but I instinctively knew when I stopped writing yesterday around 5 PM that the chapter (eighth written but seventh in the main narrative because the story opens with a prologue) would only have a total of three scenes. I wrote two scenes yesterday, so today was basically “wrap up the chapter” work.
I thought today’s workday would be what American bomber pilots during World War II called a “milk run” a mission in which enemy resistance was light to non-existent, there were few mechanical aborts, casualties were low, and the enemy target destroyed or at least heavily damaged. In my case, a milk run is when the words flow from my mind to my fingers and onto the computer screen without much effort, the characters come to life and interact believably on the page, and the story is engaging, vivid, and immersive.
Well, today was not one of those longed-for, truly awesome writing days. I struggled to even figure out where I wanted my narrator/protagonist to be after the previous scene’s ending. Did I want to show him trekking from a piano bar near Central Park to his apartment building? Did I want to describe his entire apartment? Or did I want to do a time jump and show him getting ready to go to bed after an eventful day and night with the story’s female lead? (I decided, given my circumstances, to do the time jump.)
To be clear: I suspected, just from how yesterday’s segment of The New Story ended, that a time jump would be necessary; a good story does not tell you every tiny detail of a character’s life within its narrative. It shows a reader just enough details about a person, place, or thing to convey the idea from the page to the reader’s mind…then imagination and context do their magic on their own with no further help from me (or Stephen King, or Tom Clancy, or Ernest Hemingway, for that matter).
Still, even if I had envisioned a longer, more detailed account of my “I-Guy” and his walk home to his apartment – a walk in which he might have mused about the “She-Lady”) of the story and how he felt about her after their day together – I would have scrapped that idea and gone for a briefer scene that showed that some time had passed since “I-Guy” and “She-Lady” parted at the end of the previous one and that he, the narrator, is thinking about her as he drifts off to sleep.
I usually try to go for a minimum of 1,000 new words per writing day on The New Story; if a certain scene requires less than that, okay. I’m cool; not every scene in a story must be ginormous. Again, the scene I wrote today – eventually – didn’t look as though it would exceed 500 words due to its “okay, so the I-Guy and She-Lady had a nice day out, they said, ‘good night’ and didn’t end up doing the horizontal bop tonight, so let’s wrap up the chapter on a nice suspenseful note that leaves the reader satisfied yet wanting more story later” tone.
As it turns out, today’s scene, including its title and another info tag, does exceed the 500-word count…by one word. It’s short, vivid, and even engaging – at least I think so – but, man, was it hard to write!
Anyway, I’m tired, so I’ll close for now. Tomorrow is a “workday” for me cos it’s Friday, not Saturday, and in any case, I want to finish the first draft soon so I can go through the revision-editing phase and then, maybe by July, self-publish The New Story as a hardcover, paperback, and e-book.
So, see you later, folks. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
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