Oh my, this is the kind of week that makes me wish I'd taken up some easier hobby, like cracking the code of dolphin language or really nailing the whole nuclear fusion thing. But no, I had to go and fall in love with writing.
At first, it's a glorious romance. Everything's fluffy. I wrote the first sentence of any story over and over without getting the least bit bored, though I learned not to share the gory details with others too often. A zombirific glaze sets in for normal people. It was easy at first, because it was 99% certain almost no one was going to see any of the first 100,000 words.
Then comes the awkard adolescence stage. Unlike real puberty, there are no physical markers. Instead of longing for the captain of the football team or wishing various body parts to sprout overnight, I dashed around in search of "My Voice." Which was fine, because it kept me writing, even if it is a fools' errand. And I had to write 100,000 bad words: mediocre sentences, scrambled paragraphs, hideous chapters, and forgettable novels, before the good ones came forward with any reliability.
There came a time when I could not utter the word "my voice" without my friends rolling their eyes. So I decided to forget about voice and work on craft, since that was something I knew I could improve.
Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I forgot about voice, and had made sufficient progress, dull, incremental, laborious progress, my voice was right there. It pops off the page once you clear the the cruft away. Or stop trying to write in a voice that isn't really yours. Who knew? I'm hoping that this leap forward makes me a grownup writer now. It's taken enough time...
I've been lucky enough to have a short story accepted in an upcoming anthology (more about that closer to the date!), and received my first professional edit outside of technical writing.
I'd managed to annoy the editor so much early in the story, that even things that were perfectly believable seemed impossible to her by the end. But because I'd already written 100,00 not-great words, I could process her edits, sense the penumbra, synthesize them with other comments from trusted readers, and identify what to do: throw out half the story.
It's my favorite part of the story, and might end up in a novel, but it doesn't belong in the same story as the second half, which does work.
So, humbled again, I am locked in a hotel room right now, fixing the story, while half the world (well, 130,000 people, anyway) attend Comic Con. My husband is manning the table all by himself (kind friends and fellow comic book artists keep him in in food and coffee, bless their hearts!), my niece is wandering around the exhibit floor without her Con buddy, and I am swearing a blue streak, praying for inspiration before the maid comes and interrupts me again.
I have ony a few hours to turn 8,ooo mediocre words into a story that will be a credit, not a detriment, to the anthology.
So far, the first line is:
"Ashley cracked her knuckles above her keyboard, and waited in the chilly room, computer monitors glowing in the dark."
Hey, is that too much like "it was a dark and stormy night"?