Thursday, October 10, 2013

Extraneous Words and Today's Small Word Count

Yesterday I cut about 1500 words from a short story to enter it into a Writer's Digest contest. I thought it was going to be impossible. After all, in a short story, everything is necessary, right? That's how it should be. I'd written the story over a year ago in one stream-of-consciousness sitting, gave it a little editing and sent it in for a grad school workshop. Haven't touched it since.

So when I started looking for places to cut, I didn't think I could lose any scenes. Instead, I took it line by line. My last grad school advisor taught me how to ruthlessly slash and burn unnecessary words when my grad lecture came out to be fifteen minutes too long. I was very resistant at first. Not that I thought what I'd written was absolutely brilliant. But I'd argue that all of my sentences were losing their style for the sake of making things shorter. In the end, though, I know the lecture benefited from all that cutting.

And it turns out, my short story did, too. It took a few passes, but in one day I managed to cut all of those 1500 words without losing anything at all from the actual story.

So that's my success for the week. Though it makes me wonder why we can't just write our sentences in the best, simplest way to begin with. But I guess sometimes we need to write our rough drafts the way we talk. With lots of um's and just's and really's.

Now with my contest entry submitted, I was determined that today would be the day I would get back on track with my novel. I'm already behind a whole week (meaning 10 pages) on my goal. And the second week is half over. So by the 14th I know I need to write 20 pages.

I'm in the middle of a scene right now. Usually, transitions are hard for me. Getting your characters into the scene you know is going to happen next. But once I'm in the middle of a scene, the writing just flows. Not today. Not the last five times I've opened my laptop to look at this scene. And it shouldn't be a difficult scene. I think I'm just having a really hard time getting back into a disciplined writing schedule. Writing because you know you need to. Writing when you have nothing to say. The part of being a writer that isn't fun.

I love putting words into sentences. It's what I do. So I wrote this blog post. Because it's just not going to happen for my novel today. But I did manage to write 275 words of the novel. That's something. I only hope my days start going better than this really soon.

I guess this post is pretty boring.

That's how my brain feels today.

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