Interesting few weeks. Writing deadline #1 has come and gone, and in the space of those 17 days I managed to write two complete stories. The first, hereafter known as The Basement Story, was truly dreadful. I asked before if it was possible to write a story in which the main character is trapped in a basement for the entire narrative and have it be interesting. I maintain that the answer is "yes"; however, the story that I wrote was not. Very much not. Oh, the lessons learned (the crucial one being, no it is not interesting to watch someone remember the plot).
The second story I liked a great deal more, despite its being written in less time. My thanks go out to Jana, Leah, Sarah and Ruth, all of whom jumped in to offer me amazing last-minute thoughts and critiques. Got it in by deadline. Thought that this would be a week of quiet and refocusing, but no; it was a week of crazy story revisions. Sent my revisions in yesterday and am now awaiting final/official word. (I think.)
I have confirmed something about myself through this whole process: deadlines are good for me. Oh, yes, they make me rant and spit at times, and moan and whine at others, but do they ever make me work. Writing quotas, word counts and such only make me irritable (more's the pity), but if I can set up some deadlines for future work and -- here's the key -- have someone else who will hold me accountable for these deadlines, then I think we'd see some progress.
As for deadline #2, now less than a month away ... well, back to work shortly. I am determined, etc.
At work, I have discovered that nothing generates interest in a project more than canceling it. With less than two weeks left in my contract, and with this sudden wave of people asking for someone to explain and help them understand ePortfolios, blogs, social networking, web syndication and a host of other lovely things, the powers that be at the Career Centre decided to extend my contract for another month, providing me with employment (and all those lovely benefits) until the end of May. Here is another situation in which deadlines make me work. I have five weeks left to make a serious difference.
In the mean time, all I want is to catch up on three weeks of sleep.
So, let's say you were given a deadline to work on a story. Let's say you were given seventeen days. And let's say that during those seventeen days you had to work full time, attend two optometrists' appointments, and go to a convention. Just to spice things up, let's also say that you caught a cold.
Are you with me?
Right. So, it took you three days to come up with a suitable story idea--not because you didn't like the theme, which was actually rather interesting, and not because you were lazy, but simply because your mind was caught up in a wholly other story. (Let's say the other story was about bagpipes, because wouldn't that be funny?) Then it took you a week to write the story, because of all the aforementioned things, but really, you were feeling excellent about the whole thing because you were left with so much fabulous time to revise and edit before slamming into that very inflexible deadline.
Then let's say you read the story and you hated it. Let's say you gave it the nickname "terrible story," and weren't even joking. You are a smart person, so of course you have some friends read and offer their suggestions, and while they think it's salvageable their comments really let you know that when they say "It's good" really what they mean is "It's okay."
What do you do? Of course. With only five days left, you throw out everything you've worked on and start completely from scratch. New concept, new story, new everything. And let's say that a combination of inspiration, desperation and a day home from work (because of that aforementioned cold, yes, but also that looming deadline) mean that you're able to write the whole thing in two days, under word limit and everything.
What would you do if the thought of actually re-reading what you had written was terrifying, because you know that there's no way in hell you can write a third story, and so if this one is bad you're screwed? Or have a lot of rewriting ahead of you. And only three days and a cold and work.
Let me tell you what I'd do: I'd write a blog entry. I'm just clever that way.
As a child, there were two things that I really looked forward to when I was sick. The first was The Price is Right. Don't ask me why, but this show absolutely fascinated my eight-year-old self. I would guess the prices for dining room sets, mutter at contestants who made obviously foolish bids, and cheer when (at regular and predictable intervals) someone was given the opportunity to win a Brand … New … Car!!
The second was Dr. Who. Though a somewhat sickly child at times, often home with the flu and other ailments, I must admit that I was never able to watch the show consistently enough to truly understand the plot. (Time Lord? Alien? What?) However, this did not stop me from loving it and having very strong opinions regarding the show. For example, as far as I was concerned Dr. Who did not have blond curly hair. I hated the episodes with the blond, curly-haired Dr. Who--he was not my Dr. Who, anyone who thought that he actually was Dr. Who was crazy, and I wanted him gone.
And, if you've talked to me long enough, you've probably heard the story of my distress when, during a rather nasty, week-long illness, my mother sent me over to the neighbor's house for a few hours while she went to get groceries just before Dr. Who came on. I asked permission to watch it, and then waited anxiously--it was the middle of a two part episode, the Doctor was trapped in a basement with some kind of bad creatures slowly surrounding him, and I needed to know what happened! But, I had no sooner turned on the TV and heard my beloved theme song than the neighbor's daughter--a friend of mine--came home from school and demanded to watch Batman and Robin. I was incredulous. Batman and Robin?! How could anyone choose that over Dr. Who??
(Sometimes I still wonder how he got out of that basement. … Or was it a cave? Something underground, at any rate.)
So it was with great nostalgia that I turned on the first episode of the new Dr. Who series last night. It was, quite honestly, silly. There were plot holes that I would have furiously attacked had this been a story that I was critiquing, and at times the story bordered on ridiculous. It was also witty, clever and delightfully entertaining. Simply put, it was Dr. Who. (The editing was slightly bizarre, though I don't think that this would be something I'd have noticed if I did not share an apartment with a Film and Video grad.) I admit, when I spied the "blue box" in the background I did a little mental chant: "TARDIS, TARDIS!" Who knows what I would have thought had I not watched the original (erratically) for so many years.
Whether or not the show remains on the air, and whether I keep watching it, almost seem to be inconsequential issues at the moment. I'm just happy to have had that hour.
Writing. Writing, writing, writing. Deadlines (they are now two) approach, and so I'm scurrying to come up with ideas, scenes, sentences. I've happily hacked two entire subplots from the bagpipe story (good riddance!), and come up with a seemingly-cool new story in which the character is alone and locked in a basement for the entire narrative. I've often said that I love to write stories (or scenes) in which nothing actually happens, and seem to be proving myself right time and time again. Question is: will people who read the story be as interested as I am? We shall see.
So, as I'm officially writing away, I have of course been reading blogs, and in my reading discovered that Tim Pratt has posted the art for the cover of the next issue of Flytrap, and the art contains a nice chunk of text from my Flytrap story, "She Is Elizabeth Lynn Rhodea." I knew that this was going to be the case--Heather asked for my permission--but entirely forgot about it until this very moment. Question is: is the tentacled monster more interested in the fly or my story? As I have no plans to discuss this issue with a tentacled monster, we shall not see, but will rather leave this as something of an academic question.