Saturday, August 31, 2019

No Time to Write?

© by Gerald So | 3:30 AM

This post title plays on the latest James Bond movie title, No Time to Die. Reading a Shortmystery digest message on August 22, I learned submissions were open July 1–August 31 for an all-PI story issue of Black Cat Magazine.

Having finally learned my lesson from term papers, I dislike deadline pressure and try to write and submit with plenty of time. Given these work habits, I thought of skipping the opportunity. The prevailing thought was to see if I could devise and finish a story in nine days.

I've developed a planning method that's worked well for my previous few stories, and I started running the germ of an idea through it, but I didn't have time to both draft the story and check it against my planning method as I went.

There are ideas that look good in planning that don't work in execution. If I spent too much time planning, I might not finish writing. I had to be writing as ideas formed to quickly see if they worked or not. As in a maze, I could see the end but needed to pick the right way there. As soon as I realized I picked wrong, I would start over

I also gave up my daily TV and exercise time to write. I still stepped back from the story now and then, but forced myself to shorten these breaks—including sleep—to get back to writing as soon as possible.

Even with this level of focus, there were times it seemed I wouldn't have a full story by the deadline, that ideas weren't coming. For hours I'd rewrite the same paragraph, trying to find an angle on the story. I was very conscious of leading readers down the right path, having the right mix of narration and action. Very often, narration can ramble without moving the story.

With two days to go, I received an email from my friend Graham Powell. I mentioned going for the deadline. He said he'd submitted earlier in the week and hoped both our stories would make it. That was a boost.

Wrapping up, somehow the story came together despite several times I thought it wouldn't, and I submitted yesterday. More and more I'm convinced inspiration isn't sudden. It comes from somewhere. We just don't always track its path. Doing all of the above positioned me to finish in time. Acceptance would be the ultimate victory, but submitting was a big one.

No comments: