I spent the Victoria Day Weekend (referred to in Canada as "the big two four", no matter what date the actual holiday occurs on) writing a short story, my first entirely new piece of 2014. It was grueling. At first I thought I was rusty but then I remembered, it was always this hard.
The words were good but my timing was way off. Not enough hours slotted for research left me with no cool down before the polish. I submitted it by my deadline, which was Monday, my time (I decided.)
The English translation of the Thai words is incorrect so that will certainly have to be changed, whether the story is accepted for the anthology or not. It should read:
It was a helluva way to spend the long weekend. First draft Friday night, second Saturday - more than 2,000 words over the maximum word count stated in the anthology guidelines. Two thousand words?
Generally, I eschew the use of totems to boost the fertility of my work, as I procrastinate enough without conducting a search for my lavender incense (which smells like pot to non-smokers and makes my eyes water so is, if anything, counterproductive) and so on. This time I wore my Buddha medals. I don't write to music but I did this time because the first half takes place in a little village in Thailand and begins with a true account of my location and company the night I smoked pot and heard Abbey Road, both for the first time. By Sunday I had the lengthiest brain worm of my life. Maxwell's Silver Hammer was imbedded in my head. Woah woaaaah woah woah!
I prefer that my characters submit to my whim and not the other way around. But in this case Carl and Rose had been yapping incessantly during the writing of the first draft. They'd gotten away from me.
These two are novel worthy.
That's all very well but I wasn't writing a novel. Once I figured that out, and pestered a few people on Twitter and Facebook, all I had to do was muster the words of my film mentor, the great Czechoslovakian actor and Canadian NFB producer, Vladimir Valenta, and the task became simple. "WHAT IS THIS SHIT IN MY FRAME?"
Draft words are written in sand.
But the final product?
"Keep your eyes on the big dog, baby."(from "Daao Sawang")
I've read Remittance Girl's piece on the ERWA website, but I've yet to read the two posts she refers to, so I'm not prepared, yet, to weigh in on the sacredness of my words. But I'll be back.
Remittance Girl is one of the editors of Burning Book Press, which will soon publish Written on Skin, an anthology that contains a story by me. More on that as the details roll in.
My story was enthusiastically received by the three editors spear-heading the project. RG asked for more words. She didn't suggest changes to the words already on the page; she wanted some clarification of the male protagonist's kink.
In this case, my editor's request helped immensely. She told me on Twitter, "Still loving your story," which made me happy. But had she finished reading it? I asked. "Four times," was her response.
I didn't know anthology editors read the final short stories that many times. Is this the norm?
Alice Munro (my hero!) dedicated one of her books, "To the careful reader."
Writers need to meet, or exceed, the expectations of the careful reader. I can say that much right now.
2) Abbey Road
3) Canis Major