Status Update on Willow

It’s been about three months now since I started the second full rewrite of Willow. And today, I just started working on Chapter Five. That means that so far, I’ve been spending roughly 3 weeks on each chapter, instead of just one week like I thought. At this rate, I won’t be finished with Willow until…um…late next year.

Crud.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been going through the whole text with a fine tooth comb. Looking for inaccuracies, trying to make sure I get wording right. I’ve rewritten the prologue and Chapter Two twice because the storyline didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted it to read right. So I threw out whatever I had, and completely wrote the chapters from new points of view, changed the location of a couple of places, and in one scene, decided a man would be better off as a woman.

The thing is, though, I’m having so much fun doing these rewrites. And I don’t feel terribly bad that it’s taking so long. I knew that the first few chapters would probably take the longest to rewrite. It’s like a first impression—I have only one chance to get the reader’s attention, so I want the storyline and the writing to be good. And so far, I’ve been really pleased in how strong the rewriting has made the story so far.

It also helped that I listened to #25 of the Odyssey Podcast by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. They discuss the differences between writing a story and a novel, but they also point out that you don’t know the story until you reach its end, thus, when you go back to rewrite, you can do so with that ending in mind. Hence, the opening chapters of your book will be the ones you’ll rewrite the most often. That made me feel a lot more encouraged.

(By the way, I highly suggest listening to the Odyssey Podcast. It’s not the same as being there, but it’s gives a very good idea on how it works. And they have great advice.)

Speaking of short stories, I’m working on a new one for the Writer’s of the Future Contest. This is probably the first story based on an actual person. It’s also based on some very personal feelings I have. I had a bit of a scare when I thought that the deadline for the contest was June 1, but it’s actually July 1, so I have more time. Which makes me happy.

So that’s the latest writing update I have. Willow’s growing, bit by bit. It’s taking a bit of time, but that’s how good stories get born. Letter by word, sentence by paragraph, page by chapter, until—surprise!—a book.

All right. On to chapter five…

Finally! A story out the door! Now I can get on with my life! (or at least ‘Willow’…)

Welcome back. Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Eat too much turkey? Ended up snoring in front of a televised…er…digitized football game?

Me? I just got back from visiting family. Seems there’s a little side effect in moving to Madison called “travel”. As in, we get to “travel” to visit family now. We “travel” two hours here, spend a night, then “travel” an hour there…

Actually, it’s really not that much different from when we lived in Chicago. We just get to listen to the mp3 player just a little bit longer, that’s all.

But I’m not here to talk about my Thanksgiving, which was pretty nice thank you. No, I’m here to say that I’M FINALLY FREAKING DONE WITH “SHE’S ALL LIGHT” AND IT’S OUT THE DOOOOOOOR!!!! WHOOOOOOOO!!!

I don’t usually make special posts for short stories, especially ones that I just sent out. But She’s All Light is a special case; this is a story that I spent an entire year on. Yeah, that’s right. A year. A whole year of my life tied up in this one story.

Most of the stories I’ve written would take about a month, maybe six months max, before I ship them out. But not this one. Oh no. I started working on this right around the time my hubby and I agonized over moving to Madison. It sustained me as we worried how we would sell our house, how we would pay our bills, right up to how I wondered how Daniel would fare no longer having a stay-at-home mom. All those nights spent alone when my hubby commuted to Madison, to me worrying my brains out, hoping he hadn’t crashed or fallen asleep at the wheel, all those days staring at all the rooms that needed to be painted, at the ripped out floors. Throughout house sale negotiations. Yuck.

It’s a miracle that I was able to get She’s All Light done. But “get ‘R done” I did. And right before we left for Thanksgiving travel to. That was a nice added bonus.

And if you’re dying to know what exactly the story is about–well, er, I can’t rightly tell you. At least not before giving it a chance to get published first. Of course, now that it’s finished and all, I’m feeling the writer’s remorse boiling up already. Darn! I should have put that line in that I took out! I probably forgot to spellcheck it one final time. Aw man, I just put all that work into it and it’s crap crap crap. I never should’ve mailed it off. Should’ve just dumped it in a drawer and let it rot. It’s crap, all my writing is crap, I’m such a crappy writer…

You ever notice that the Writer’s Remorse don’t know how to write well? After a while, it just starts repeating itself…

Well, now that She’s All Light is gone, that’s pretty much left a vacuum. Suddenly my afternoons are free again. Wow. What to do with all this free time. Hmmmm….

Oh, I know! Maybe, just maybe, I should work on…oh, I don’t know….Weeping of the Willows?!

Excuse the sarcasm in that last sentence. That’s the buried author in me poking. Seems she’s been muffled for far too long, though I haven’t been neglecting her that much. Actually, I’m halfway through my readthrough of the first draft of Willow, so I’m eager to bump up the schedule and try to get through the reading more quickly now that I don’t have endless revisions sitting in front of me. At the same time, however, I’m thinking my mind is in deep need of play. It’s been focusing too much on revisions for far too long. My mind needs to go out and play on the jungle gym a bit, do some swinging, run and play tag with some others. My mind needs some Happy Funtime Freewrites.

So, seeing that this is December and I probably won’t have much time to devote to serious work, I’m going to let my mind relax a bit. I still plan to put the bulk of my focus on finishing my readthrough of Willow, but I’ll also devote some time to let my creativity spill onto the keys and see what sticks. And, if you guys are lucky, maybe I’ll even offer some goodies at the Cafe.

It’s the least I can do for my customers who’ve stuck around for so long.

Finally! I’m done with my short story (now I just have to proofread it and re-edit it and market it…)

I did it. After nine whole months, I finished my fourth (and hopefully final) draft of my sci-fi short story “She’s All Light”.

Whew.

Of course, as you can tell by the title, there’s still a whole lot of work to be done to it. Now that I got the storyline down the way I want it, I need to get readers so that they can tell me if what I wrote was the best thing they’ve ever seen or that I basically wasted six months working on crap. Then I need to process their comments, perhaps fling myself on the floor in a bit of rage, or perhaps stare dully at a wall for a couple of hours, then somehow work up the courage to go over the story again to incorporate their suggestions…or just trash the whole thing and go work full-time as a secretary. Then there’s the finding of a market to send it to, and formatting it so that I can send it to that market, and spell-checking and grammar-checking and fact-checking…

But really, I am done with the story.

I think this is the first time I worked so long on a story. Normally, it would take me at the most three, maybe four months to do a story from first scribblings to final draft. But that was when I had oodles of time at my leisure. When I started working on the fourth draft way back in September, I figured it would take a couple of months…December at the latest. Boy was I wrong.

Part of the reason why it to so long was that the story itself is picking long–almost 13,000 words. I might be able to get away with cutting out some words during the final grammar/spell check, but when I worked on this fourth draft, I intended on making it as tight as it could. So it will probably stay at it’s high word count. Another reason was that this was a deeper story than I realized. I needed to go slowly just to make sure the story stayed in line.

And the real reason? My life exploded.

Between October and May, my writing slowed to a crawl. There were days when I could only work on SAL for 10 minutes. The days when we worked on the house to get it ready for sale…I’d do some painting, go revise a sentence, do some more painting, revise another sentence. Ugh. Not that it wasn’t a good thing. The slow going helped me to focus, making sure each sentence, each word contributed to the story as a whole. (And it helped that I started reading Francine Prose’s book on reading slowly).

But revising that story felt like pulling out a mouthful of teeth. One molar at a time.

I’m pondering now if I should focus exclusively on re-reading Willow to get it ready for its editing. But part of me is crying to work on something new. Some poetry, maybe or another short story, one that is more light-hearted than SAL. I want to work on something cute and fluffy.

Guh. I really have been writing drama too long.

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