Thursday, April 29, 2004

Write in it

I'm still in serious disbelief over Virginia, but it's past my bedtime and I'm not sure I have anything coherent to say about that subject except I'm glad I don't live in Virginia (not that I live somewhere much better on the tolerance scale), and I've always been proud to hail from Vermont, home of civil unions.

Today's regularly scheduled blog entry is about writing, mostly because I realized that I'll find out tomorrow the results of a contest I entered back in February. I don't have high hopes at all because the story was mediocre at best, the writing fairly juvenile (compared to my style now), and the plot very weak; only Rocky's last minute suggestions made it a somewhat decent entry.

However, I'm now facing a June 15 deadline for another magazine. This one is called "Cafe Irreality" and it's dedicated to surreal fiction. I'm a huge fan of surreal fiction, ever since the summer I spent in Amherst reading nothing but South American writers and International Sudden Fiction (btw, I highly recommend the anthology to all of you -- it's a gorgeous collection of styles, voices, gimmicks, and the art of telling the very very short story. It's one of my all-time favorite books). So, back to the subject of surreal fiction. I always think this genre as the type of stories that would emerge if Dali used words, not paint. I have two stories already written and in need of editing and some revising, and I should make the June 15 deadline fairly easily.

Following on the steps of the June 15 deadline comes the October 1 deadline for SNW. Yes, I plan to enter SNW this year and I have a few ideas in mind. Only one, however, is completely formulated -- the other two are just a scene or two and I'm having a hard time spinning plot, conflict and resolution into 7,500 words. Still, the opportunity is too good to pass up and so I've decided to discipline myself and actually plan out two of the ideas I have and see what happens. Usually, the way I write is pure Napolean's Battle Plan: "We show up and then we see what happens." (Astute readers will recognize this line from one of my favorite "Sports Night" episodes and if you read that transcript -- and you really should -- the second part is my absolute favorite ep.). I'm curious to see if my stories turn out better if I inject organization and thought into them before the fact, rather than the whole "let's throw some ideas and words at the screen and see if something sticks!"

Yes, I'm horrified by my writing process as well.

I'm contemplating finding an other contest that will fit in nicely between the June 15 and October 1 deadlines. My goal is to enter at least four contests this year. That may not seem like a lot, but writing is not this thing you can do just by thinking you want to do it. It takes time, thought, and effort, and there's a lot of frustration to it. You have to think about character, about setting, plot, conflict, resolution, and even if you've got all of that, the muse may not cooperate. Or perhaps you write the whole thing and realize it just doesn't work and you have no idea why. Sometimes I push through that block and other times, I just let it go. So that's where I am right now -- I need one more publication to submit to before the end of the year in order to meet my resolution. If I can get 5 in, that'll be great.

And, on that note, good night all, good night moon.

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