I’m going in…

I finished the first draft of a story on new year’s eve and then metaphorically shoved it in a drawer. That draft is a mess, so I had intended to let it sit and percolate in there for several weeks and hope that I could magically work out how to fix it in the meantime.

I realized this past week, though, that the deadline for submitting it to the place I want to submit it is the beginning of February and not the end of February, so I’ve had to shuffle up the timeline a bit. In order to get a readable draft out to my first reader so that I can get notes back and still have time to revise it again, the story has to come out of the drawer today.

I printed it out this morning, and I’m about to wade in. Sharpening the red pen, as it were. Wish me luck.

Cut, cut cut. Snip, snip, snip.

The piece I’m working on at the moment is targeted for a specific publication. They have a call out for stories on a topic about which I feel I have a lot to say. I was poking around on their website yesterday, to check deadlines and such, when I realised that their word limit for creative non-fiction is 3,500. This became a problem, since my piece was sitting at 4,100 words and wasn’t finished yet. Continue reading

Signs of Dedication

I am not a morning person. And, in particular, I am not creative in the morning. When my schedule is flexible, my peak writing time is between 9pm and 2am. I’m not sure why, but that has been true since I was a teenager. Maybe it just takes a whole day of stimulus to wear my inner editor into submission, I don’t know.

Early yesterday morning, I got some notes back from my writing buddy about a piece I’m struggling with. This is a story I’m very fond of. And it’s not so much my beautiful prose that I’m attached to, but rather the fact that I’m writing about a time in my life that involved a whole soup kettle of emotions, and about a person at that time who was very important to me. My buddy’s comments were spot on, as well as being an exact echo of the comments I gave him on his current piece. So, clearly I should know better. Still, I was resistant. Because this is a story I’m very fond of.

My schedule had me running around all day yesterday, so the notes were left to percolate at the back of my brain. By the end of the day, when I sat down with a cup of hot chocolate and my laptop, I realised that I’ve received the same comments from three different people, now. That’s a clear sign that something isn’t working, so I sat down, determined to finally address the problem.

The hardest thing to let go of was the tone. There was a certain melancholy to the piece, a nostalgia, that I loved. It’s a feeling that permeates my memories of that time, and I worked hard to capture that in my writing. It was hard to accept that it was actually creating distance between the audience and the story.

So last night I sat down and shifted the whole thing into the present tense, something I had avoided on purpose in the previous draft. I rewrote or rearranged almost every section, and along the way I had a couple of revelatory moments – small fixes that addressed bigger problems.

I flamed out at midnight with two sections left to go. I knew I had to be at work today, so I couldn’t keep writing into the night, and my eyes were closing on me anyway. But. Today was the deadline to get stories in to be workshopped at my writers’ group this Wednesday. And I want the others to read this. I need to know whether I’m on the right track now.

So this morning, still in my pyjamas, I plunked myself back down in front of the laptop, bashed out the last two sections and mailed it off. All before breakfast.

I killed one of my darlings and I met my deadline. I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate this small triumph. It’s not easy in a busy world, so it’s worth crowing when we can.

Do you have a small triumph to crow about? Or a big one? Let’s congratulate each other, shall we?