Rescinding (Flash Fiction)

Death.

But not the fearful kind. Not the kind that Hollywood instills in young minds, the kind where the doomed soul goes screaming down the hallway, clawing and scratching, fingernails rolling back against the hardwood floor in terrified strain. Not the kind where the screen fills with crimson and black and horrible dread comes crushing down like an endless depth.

None of that.

He’s floating. Not weightless, not without form or presence. Simply there. Simply existing. The lack of weight comes from a lack of pressure, a lack of worry or commitment. A total lack of fear. He turns to look, somewhat ironic since he already knows his place, and sees what he always knew was there. The silly jokes weren’t far off when it came to the Pearly Gates. Light shines, clouds shimmer, and a man stands with a book in waiting.

The man approaches.

“Do you wish to enter?” the gatekeeper asks.

“There’s a choice?” he responds, surprised both in the option and in his own asking.

“Of course. There’s always choice,” the gatekeeper replies. “Existence is choice, through and through, from beginning to end.”

The man pauses with thought. “What are the options?”

The gatekeeper turns and waves a hand. “Entry, for one, as you’ve likely expected. Or rescind.”

The man can’t help but smile. “You mean—”

“I do,” the gatekeeper says with a sly smile in return, his all-knowing state giving privy to the man’s mind. The man laughs, and the gatekeeper laughs with him, and together they share a moment of absolute joy. Eventually, the laughter plays out.

“How far can I go with option two?” the man asks.

“As far as you’d like, though I don’t recommend anything too serious,” the gatekeeper says. “Some go too dark, and they return disappointed. The mortal mind is fragile, after all. Do you really want to scare your friends and family to death? Haunting wails and rattling chains and all that?”

“No,” the man says without hesitation. “Of course not.” He pauses, considering again. “But I’d like to do more than watch. I’d like to help, you know? Interact.”

“I do.”

“I’d like to let them know I still care, that I’m still with them,” the man says, not noticing the gatekeeper’s intuition. “Is there a ‘Casper’ category? A friendly ghost?”

“No,” the gatekeeper says. “But there’s something close. May I interest you in an orb?”

The man squints with question. “Orb?”

The gatekeeper nods. “You can give sensations of calm. You can see your loved ones and be there with them and touch their souls just enough to put a slight ease to their pain. Not enough to end the suffering, of course, no spirit can do that. But enough to take the edge off.”

“And I appear as an orb?” the man asks.

“From time to time, in chance photos, but only in the pictures that matter most. And you’ll only be noticed by those you truly love. They’ll doubt what it means, seeing a faint spot in the photo, but deep down they’ll know. They’ll remember the moment and how they felt, and they’ll know you were there. Nothing so substantial it can be proven, but not a voice in the world will be able to convince them otherwise.”

The man considers. “Wasn’t this in a movie once?”

“More than once,” the gatekeeper says. “Fiction draws its inspiration from reality.”

Without skipping a beat, the man answers. “I’ll do that then. Send me back.” He hesitates. “How long will I be gone?”

“As long as you like,” the gatekeeper says, “though most return after a few years. They help their family through their grief, see to it they find peace, then come home before witnessing their final years.”

Shimmering and already losing his form, the man asks a final question. “What happens to the orbs that stay too long?”

The gatekeeper, knowing the man’s thoughts and fears and deepest concerns, stares for a long moment in silence. “You’ll see for yourself.”

And the man disappears.

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The Weight of Sorrow

If I could save you, I would, but I’m too busy drowning myself. Sorrows weigh, press, drag and bury, and you’ve only begun your journey of self-doubt. Press on, sweet friend, and find the depths in which I dwell. Sink and sink and sink, and soon you’ll find me and my sorrows, and you’ll likely wonder what the fuss was about. Not to say that my suffering trumps yours, of course not, but misery and suffering are relative, and I’m on the verge of showing you what they’re all about.

So cling, please, and beg for help. Cry for the moon and scream to the sky and indulge in all of those things that cry for help. And when your throat runs dry and your tears run out, turn to me and see what pain is all about.

Together, we’ll dig our graves with anxiousness. Together we’ll forsake the options that set us free. For those choices, those rambunctious decisions only live in dreams.

Or do they?

Don’t consider the question, the option, that pain is somehow optional. There’s no self-indulgence in it. Never consider the idea that pain can be discarded, love, for if you do, you’ll lose me forever, and you’ve already told me you’d love me forever.

I beg of you, please, never consider the idea that things can be changed. Never consider the possibility that pain is an option and you can be free. No, sweet love, dearest friend, never conjure these ideas. Rather, trust in me, believe in my all-encompassing ideal that pain is everywhere and suffering is mandatory.

Swallow the kool-aid, swear to my fanaticism. Adhere to the binary idea that it’s all or nothing, cling to that, and I’ll bring you with me. Misery so loves company, and I so love you when you’ve committed to ride along with me. I’ve only said so endless times. As many times as it takes to convince you. You and I, misery and fleeting hopes, together we can take to the skies. We can discard the world and abandon possibilities. We can refute all of which may ever seem right. We can drown together in sower as lovers, forever, and as we sink into perpetual darkness, we’ll forever blame the light.

Suspended (Flash Fiction)

She passes through automatic doors, exchanging dated linoleum for dingy concrete, and steps into the sun. She squints, glares, recognizes the pain flashing her eyes, but disregards it. The pain is a nuisance, a mild form of what he is already experiencing. Somewhere, knives are cutting. Machines monitor heart rate and blood pressure. Fluorescent lights shine down on sedated eyes that are closed and unresponsive. A surgeon, aided by assistants, leans forward and proceeds with steady hands and precise care. There’s no comparison, this glare to that fatal danger. She feels ashamed to have even acknowledged it.

The surgeon, knife and monitors, she sees these in her mind while her feet pad along aged sidewalk. Her legs take the lead, guiding her around others standing and passing by, others distracted by their own pains and worries, those chatting and consoling, those making difficult phone calls where the questions are never fully answered and the person on the other end is always left in suspension. Those lost to conversation where the ending is always the same. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll find out more in the morning.

And she can’t help but substitute morning with mourning.

Coming to a split in the path, she pauses. One branch veers around the large hospital, signs pointing directions toward a food court and additional parking. The other turns toward the facility entrance and its adjoining street. Viewing the world with dazed eyes, she’s surprised when her legs take her toward the busy four-lane avenue. Step after step, she wades away from privacy and into the thicket of normality.

As she waits for a red hand to shift into a green person walking, her eyes graze over the landscape. Gas stations lists rising fuel prices. Diners flaunt unappetizing specials. Cars funnel into narrow lanes producing coffee and fast food. Disinterested drivers sit impatiently at red lights. As she starts through the crosswalk, she can’t help but feel the distance growing between her and reality, between the world she used to see and the world her mortal form floats through. Her legs carry her, trustworthy escorts in her time of need, as her mind poses scenario after scenario. Pragmatism pushes the most likely to the front, one where she weeps in the doctor’s arms despite the thousands of times she’s told herself not to collapse. The doctor takes a minute to console her before handing her off to another member of the staff that can help with the steps needed to take next. Runner-up is her fumbling attempt to explain the catastrophic results to her children, though she knows for a fact those words will never escape her lips. A split-second of her broken face will tell those two beautiful creatures more than she could ever explain. Lingering further back is where the bulk of her hope clings, crossed fingers and darting prayers making full assault on the outcome of a complicated process going as well as it can, but a follow-up surgery is needed and there’s more work to be done. We’re not out of the woods yet.

The last idea is held like a sacred secret, deep and hidden. Buried and concealed. An astonishing outcome. A medical triumph. They’ve happened before. It could happen again. There’s always that chance.

But that idea waits, suspended. Suspended like the surgeon’s knife. Suspended like the sun in the sky and the cars at red lights. Suspended, simply waiting and hoping and lost in perpetual thought.

She rounds the block and practices difficult conversations in her mind. They did their best. The surgeon was fantastic, one of the best. He was brave and he fought ‘til the end. This kind of cancer is common in men. We all know the healthy life he lived. These things just happen. Forever in our memories. Gone but not forgotten. She considers flower arrangements. Do they even matter? Does he want a fancy coffin? She never thought to ask. She dreads another phone call with her mother. She wonders when the last of the medical bills will come, the financial closure to an emotional disaster.

She tries to think of what she’ll tell her daughter, and her thoughts go into suspension. She tries to consider how she’ll quell her son’s teenage rage, and her thoughts go into suspension.

The sidewalk beneath her feet bends and bulges and cracks against pushing tree roots like the scene of a localized earthquake. Her feet carry her like angels, never missing a step, never catching a toe on a crack, her movement suspended one quarter of an inch above hazard. She glances at the time on her phone, again, to see it’s seven minutes later from the last time she’s checked. She wonders how far the procedure has come. She wonders if the monitors connected to her husband have alarmed in terrible harmony, a revolting announcement of death so far removed from the trumpets God uses when He arrives with His angels. That liar. That hypocrite. But either way, somehow, time has passed, and she wonders: How long have I been walking?

Her mind can provide no answer.

Looking up, she sees the hospital just ahead. With dread, her legs carry her forward. Sidewalk glides beneath her. Streets are crossed. Automatic doors open and shut. With tremendous effort, she forces herself to take a seat in an uncomfortable plastic chair. Though sitting, she feels as if she’s floating, suspended above the ground. Suspended in the air.

Seemingly frozen, time passes. The surgeon suddenly arrives. And though she’s lived this moment in her mind a thousand times, her heart utterly dislodges from her body.

Suspended.

Summer Summer

Lots of dust collecting around here lately… it happens. With summer in full swing, I’ve been putting my family as the priority (my work schedule gives me more time off during the week than weekend).  Tack that onto several trips to the beach and you get a nice recipe for slowdown in the writing world. Honestly, I don’t mind. I could stand a bit of a break. It’s been great getting out and in the sun, seeing friends and family… all that. My usual routine is one of working nights and being awake and productive when the rest of the world is asleep. It’s been an interesting change being among the living.

At any rate, just an update. I hope everyone else is getting some needed time off as well. Get some toes in the sand if ya can. It feels a lot better than the grindstone, even if just for a moment.

Walls and Momentum

I’m still pounding away at the second draft of my novel, but I wanted to share something. I keep a word log of my progress. I find it to be my most important tool when it comes to motivation. It shows my effort compiling toward something bigger, and it reminds me how important it is to write whenever I have the chance. It all adds up. As long as I make progress, I’ll eventually reach the end.

Last year, I posted the word log of my first draft. Some people found it interesting, so I wanted to post the current word log for my second draft, with one highlighted exception. For those unfamiliar with the format, it goes

(word-count start) : (word-count finish) total

 

Jan 22: Chp 1 (0) : (1250) 1250

Jan 23: Chp 1(1250) : (2670) 1400

Jan 23: Chp 1 (2670) : (3655) 1000

Jan 24: Chp 1 (3655) : (3880) 150   3.8k start… not bad. Hope to go faster though

 

Jan 29: Chp 1 (3880) : (4870) 1000

Jan 29: Chp 1 (4870) : (5620) 750

Jan 30: Chp 2 (0) : (150)

Jan 31: Chp 2 (150) : (200) 50 … 2k 😦

 

Feb 10: Chp 2 (0) : (800) 800

Feb 10: Chp 2 (800) : (1300) 500

Feb 11: Chp 2 (1300) : (1750) 450

Feb 12: Chp 2 (1750) : (3150) 1400

Feb 13: Chp 2 (3150) : (5750) 2600

Feb 14: Chp 2 (5750) : (5725)

 

Feb 20: Chp 2 (5725) : (5750) 50 just tiny tweaks, low effort

Feb 21: Chp 2 (5750) : (6100) 350 but lots of edits

 

Feb 25: Chp 1 (5620) : (5600) Chp1 touchups and notes

Feb 25: Chp 2 (6100) : (6110) tweaks

Feb 25: Chp 2.1 (0) : (750)

Feb 26: Chp 2.1 (750) : (2150) 1400

Feb 26: Chp 2.1 (2150) : (2575) 425

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (2575) : (3575) 1000

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (3575) : (4250) 675 (pre-clean) (3890 post clean with saved section in place)

Feb 27: Chp 2.1 (3890) : (4090) 200 and a 4.4k week of total writing. Well done!

 

Mar 5: Chp 2.1 changes (4090) : (4300) 200

Mar 6: Chp 3 (0) : (1230) 1230

Mar 6: Chp 3 (1230) : (3500) 2300

Mar 7: Charlie (0) : (200) 200

 

Mar 11: Chp 3 overhaul (3500) : (4200) 700

Mar 11: Chp 3 (4200) : (5100) 900

Mar 11: Chp 3 purge (5100) : (2700)

Mar 12: Chp 3 (2700) : (3500) 700

Mar 12: Chp 3 (3500) : (4700) 1200

Mar 13: Chp 3 (4700) : (6000) 1300

Mar 13: Chp 3 edits (6000) : (6450) 450

Mar 14: Chp 4 (0) : (680) 680 Chp 4 basically unchanged from its original draft… kinda cool

Mar 14: Chp 5 (0) : (2450) 8.5k week? Damn…

 

Mar 20: Chp 3 rework (6450) : (6825) 375

Mar 21: Chp 3 rework (6825) : (7100) 275

 

Mar 25: Chp 3 rework (7100) : (7340) 250

Mar 26: Chp 3 rework (7350) : (8150) 800

Mar 26: Chp 3 cleanup (8150) : (7830)

Mar 27: Chp 3 cleanup (7830) : (8160) too long

Mar 27: Chp 5 (2450) : (3300) 550

Mar 28: Chp 5 (3300) : (3500) 200 but decent tweaks

Mar 28: Chp 3 again… (8160) : (8220)

 

Apr 2: Chp 3 split (8220 : (7220) + (1470)

Apr 3: Chp 5 (3500) : (4125) 625

 

Apr 9: Chp 5.1 (0) : (1500)

Apr 10: Chp 5.1 (1500) : (4000) 2500

Apr 10: Chp 5.1 (4000) : (4375)

Apr 11: Chp 6 (0) : (1625) 6k week

 

Apr 16: Chp 6 (1625) : (1700) 75 so sleepy and did a FF

Apr 16: Chp 6 (1700) : (3700) 2000 (good job)

Apr 17: Chp 6 (3700) : (6250) 2550 4.6k week… train kept a rollin’ all night long

 

Ask me if I got sick and tired of working on Chapter 3. Go ahead. Ask me.

On March 6th, I started working on that damn thing, and I didn’t put it away with satisfaction until April 2nd. Almost a month of working on the same chapter again and again and again. You wanna talk about hitting a wall… I hit a wall. On top of that, not only was I spending this time reworking the same chapter, it was an early chapter. At the beginning of the year, I had hopes of having this second draft done by July (not gonna happen). Now it’s taking one month to fix one chapter?

Double wall. A wall of time that ultimately brewed a substantial wall of doubt. My mood got darker. I fell into an emotional funk. Not depressed or broken or anything, just bleh.

But I pushed on. Partly out of spite, but mostly because I’ve already come too far to stop, and now I’ve put in two weeks in a row that are well above my weekly goal of 3 thousand words. The damned wall is behind me (for now), and I can build momentum again. Hopefully it’s enough to plow right through whatever wall waiting for me in the future.

I don’t really know why I’m posting this. Partly because I’m proud of myself. Partly because it’s almost 5am. Mostly though, I want others to see what happens when you keep trying. I know I’m not the only one struggling to reach a goal. I know others are out there climbing walls. All I can say is just keep climbing. Keep climbing, one day at a time if you have to. You’ll get there.

The Old Lady Next Door (Writing Prompt)

I finally stumbled on a Writing Prompt that clicked for me (after weeks of casually searching).  Hope you enjoy it. From Reddit:

 

I still remember the first night I ever really saw her, the night I call the beginning of her oddities. I was in the kitchen grabbing another beer and it was rainin’ like hell outside, wind and lightning and the whole works. A bitchin’ storm, really. Hadn’t seen one like that in a while. I had my curtains open to watch the rain and even cracked a couple windows to better hear the thunder. The window over the sink was one of them since the wind was blowing the other way.

So I’m cracking the top off another soldier and looking at the night sky, all black and writhing with clouds, lightning flashing like paparazzi, and there she is in the side-yard just rummaging around in her trash can. I had to blink at first, thinking the shadows were off from the storm, but no. It was her alright. I don’t know why, but I flipped off my kitchen light fast as I could so she wouldn’t see me. I knew someone lived next door, but I had no idea who. This was the first time I’d seen who it was, so I was pretty curious.

She was dressed for the occasion, no doubt. Yellow rain coat that hung so low over her body it almost scraped the ground and a big, yellow cap to match. She was a tiny little thing, barely tall enough to reach into her own garbage can, and she had long, white hair that hung out from under her rain cap and draped over her shoulders, sopping wet and sticking to her coat, the clumps hanging down streaming rivulets.

I took a drink thinking, the fuck is this old lady doing out in the rain? Trash trucks weren’t coming the next day, so that wasn’t it. What kind of garbage could be so important you gotta deal with these elements? She was dropping in small, black bags, and not just one or two. She had damn near a dozen of these things, apparently trundled them out by the armful, and was dropping them into the bin one by one.

I leaned over the sink, the thick smell of rain blowing through the screen, and watched. Each plastic bag fell in with a thump. Heavy, whatever they were, but with the bags being black, I just couldn’t tell. Just one after another, thump, thump. Then she turns and waddles off down the side-yard between our two little houses. I lean way over the sink and watch until she rounds the corner to her back porch. When I turn to leave, I notice she’s left the lid open, and only one thought occurs to me: She’s coming back with more.

Sure as shit.

But this last bag wasn’t little, oh no. Now she’s got this heavy-duty piece of plastic that looks like a body bag, dragging it over the slick grass. I can still remember the sounds her boots made as she struggled, these sloppy, squishing, sucking sounds like the flooded lawn was trying to swallow her up.

The hell is this now, I’m thinking, watching her hunched shoulders pull on something that must weigh as much as she does, if not more. I remember hearing her curse a couple times, a raspy voice like sandpaper over asphalt. Her grip kept slipping because of the rain. Once she slipped so bad she almost fell right on her ass.

She drags this damn thing all the way down the side-yard, and I’m just watching and thinking, there’s no way. She’ll never get that in. Then the damnedest thing comes out of my mouth, like I said the words before the thought even formed in my head.

I just blurt out, “Hey, you need help?”

She stops. Not a freeze, not a type of stun or surprise where you find out someone’s been watching you and you stop what you’re doing to turn and see. No. She stops dead like she’s turned to stone, like she’s a fucking statue in the garden now. She stops and just stands there, shoulders hunched, stretched plastic in her hand, water streaming off the bend in her elbows, off the rim of her yellow cap.

I wait. She doesn’t say a thing. Doesn’t move.

“I said, you need h—”

NO,” she says before I can even finish the words, and this time her voice ain’t all raspy and thin, hell no. It’s a boom, like the thunder, like someone just pounded a drum. I can still hear it to this day. NO. Thank god I was leaning over the sink cause I damn near dropped my beer. I caught it before it really fell but some of it still spilled.

She never turned. Never looked. Never even moved. Freaked me the fuck out, no joke, so I just backed away. I didn’t say sorry or okay or anything. I just backed away.

After that, I only saw her two more times in maybe six months, and both only at night. Once it was late, like 2 am or something, and she was out near her shed. I didn’t see her, but I heard something coming from her yard. I wondered if it was her, so I slipped out the door real quiet and crept across the grass.

She was digging. I could hear the little spade she was using chopping at the dirt, hitting the rocks in the soil. When I finally got the nerve to peak over the fence all I could see was her tiny little body hunched over, her arms working, white hair hanging over her slumped back.

I didn’t say a damn thing to her, just watched for a while then went back inside.

The other time was right at the end of dusk, just as the last bit of sunlight was fading from the sky. I was grabbing something from the kitchen again, windows open, and got this funny feeling. I looked up expecting to see someone outside, but no one was there. Side-yard was empty. I kinda glanced around, no biggy, then just as I turned I saw her. She was inside, standing behind her curtain, one faded-yellow eye staring at me, one clawed little finger pulling her drapes back just enough for a peek. Most of her face was shrouded, but I could see that one eye looking through, looking right at me with the same kind of raw power her voice had when she told me NO after my dumbass offered to help.

Haven’t seen her since, but she’s still living next door. Gardeners still mow and manage the bushes. Packages still get dropped on the front porch and disappear by morning.

I keep the curtains closed on that side of the house now.

 

 

A Rainy Day (Writing Prompt)

From reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/85fv72/wp_just_write_a_nice_story_about_someone_having_a/

Warm blankets on a Saturday. A gray morning that comes in casually, glances through a window, and quietly passes. She rolls, stretches, and feels the softness of wool on her skin. There’s no alarm to respond to, no reason to rush. Idle thoughts pass through, orderly, one by one, and not a single idea imposes stress. Life simply is. There’s nothing to overcome. Plunging her toes into fluffy slippers, the day has begun.

Coffee by the windowsill. Spatters of rain on the glass. The paperboy was kind enough to wrap the morning news in plastic, and his arm was strong enough to send it fully up the path. She unfolds pages that crinkle in her hands, and the front page is a rare display of brilliance. Girl scouts made a killing yesterday in front of the controversial dispensary. *You go, girls*, she thinks.

No texts, no emails, no social media notifications. She watches storm clouds rush by her sliding glass door. Finches wiggle their wings under rushing droplets, twerp and tweet with enjoyment, and give her a vicarious outdoor moment while she stands safely inside with a warm cup. Blood-red carnations flex their petals, daring bold colors against the gray sky. Rather than clash, the colors embrace, yin and yang.

She considers an outing, something quick to gather a sense of accomplishment, but the soft robe stays on, a comforter is taken as ally, and a good book is read. A few candles lit, some music in the background, and all the while, rain drops tap at the windows and tap at the vents and tap at the siding in lulling intervals. A fictional love affair unravels, and she’s enthralled.

She soon nods off, thumb saving her page. An hour slips by, then two, ’til she’s awoken by a soft buzzing. A close friend is calling.

“Let’s meet for lunch.”
“Okay!”

She opts for a stroll instead of a cab. Her shoes scuff old concrete and skip over older cobblestone. Falling rain kisses her umbrella as she reaches the cafe and embraces a dear friend.

131

I draw inspiration from a lot of sources: musicians, writers, athletes, even the occasional politician. It’s amazing how far some people have come and the dedication they’ve committed to their dreams. That dedication often helps to get me off my keister and get going on my own dreams when I’d rather lounge around or throw myself a pity party.

This last weekend I witnessed another example of amazing dedication.

One of the few sports I follow is Supercross. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the motorcycle racing they do in large stadiums, the ones with the complicated tracks and big jumps. It’s an entertaining sport to watch and great to see live if you ever get the chance. It’s also very competitive. Usually only a handful of guys are fighting for that top spot while the rest struggle to keep their jobs and earn a living. It’s also very demanding physically, and injury is a constant concern.

This last weekend was Daytona, and the winner was a rider by the name of Justin Brayton. This is significant for two reasons. First, Justin set the record for being the oldest rider to win a 450cc main event at the age of 33 (almost 34). Supercross is a young man’s sport, and if you’re over 30, you’re old. In that respect, it’s quite the accomplishment.

But here’s the kicker (and the inspiration):

It’s his first victory in 131 starts.

It took 131 attempts for Justin to grab his first win. A supercross season is a total of 17 races. If you never miss a race due to injury or illness (a rarity), it would take almost 8 seasons to start 131 times. For 8 years, this guy practiced, trained, worked with mechanics, traveled to cities throughout the country, struggled with doubt, rode through pain, and left his family at home to try yet again to get his first win.

8 years. 131 starts.

And it finally happens.

That’s incredible to me. Astounding. I can’t imagine the amount of doubt that can linger in a mind that goes 8 years without a win, especially in our culture where the term “success” is so heavily associated with winning. 131 attempts to finally get there. That’s persistence I can’t even imagine.

Congratulations to Mr. Brayton to his first victory, a win well deserved, and a huge thank you for displaying the amazing power of persistence.

That Was Fast

A thought occurred to me the other day, one of checking my quaint little webpage to see when I last posted. Probably been a couple weeks, I thought.

Yeah, no… try 2 months.

“Oh. Whoops.”

Anyway, still here and still working, though it certainly doesn’t show to the outside world. The second pass of my novel has essentially turned into a second draft. The good news is that it’s going very well. The chapters I’ve reworked are improved by quite a bit, far more fleshed out than the first versions were. The pacing is better. Descriptions are better. Character interactions are much better. All good things.

The bad news is that it’s going really well… so I’ll be doing it to the entire book, and that’s a lot more time and effort than I expected. I don’t mind (that’s a bit of a lie). There’s no point in doing this if I don’t do the best I can, but it’s daunting. To know that I’m on Chapter 3 with another twenty-something to go does put a slight damper on enthusiasm. I have a path though, that being the same path I followed last year in writing the first draft. Keep a weekly goal for word count and try to meet it. Chip away at the mountain, and it eventually comes down.

I want to say I mean to write more Flash Fiction, but I’ve said that a good dozen times over the last year and it hasn’t amounted to anything. I do have a short story rolling around in the brain right now. I may try to push that out.

Either way you cut it, words are still being pounded on the anvil. Someday they’ll see the light of day.

Reading the First Draft

After giving myself a couple weeks off for the holidays and as a break from writing in general, I’m finally sitting down to read my first draft. The idea is to read it as a reader (as well as I can) to see how the pacing feels, check for plot holes, how it holds my interest, so on.

So far, things aren’t going as well as I’d hoped.

Not to say the story is bad. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. What stands out to me the most is the pacing. Through ten chapters of reading, the book has a feeling of most things being ‘glossed over.’ Details are thin. There’s a layer of impatience to everything, as if I’m hurrying to get to the next scene.

Honestly, I’m not surprised.

Writing a book is obviously much different than reading one. A scene that can take an hour or more to write and tweak and feel satisfied with can take six minutes to read. That kind of time distortion is hard to account for when deciding whether I’ve written too much or too little. On this story, I feared writing too much and boring the reading, so I tried to streamline the story as much as I could.

Mission super-duper accomplished.

Along with that, I can tell where the shortcomings of my preparation are. A lot of the characters I have were created as I went, and I didn’t spend a lot of time developing them before plopping them into the story. Because of that, they sort of evolve as time goes on. Normally, you want that kind of thing, but it doesn’t work so well for my story as it all takes place within the span of a few days. Characters don’t generally do a lot of changing in that short of time.

There are some silver linings though. I still like the story. A lot. In fact, I’m pretty happy with how it’s unfolding. My goals of creating questions and intrigue work (in my opinion). There are reasons to continue turning the page. I’m also comfortable with how it all sounds, my ‘voice.’ Though the prose still needs improvement, I only want to tighten rather than change it completely. That’s new from a couple years ago.

However, all of this means my second revision will likely take more time than I anticipate. So be it. I’m self-publishing this thing, and I want it to be the best version I can create before posting it online. I’ll do myself a huge disservice if I don’t put the proper time into it. I’d love to be done with everything before July, but with a second pass to do, more feedback from beta-readers, covers and formatting and copy editing to do… I don’t know how realistic July is. It’s a goal, one I’ve broken down into little milestones. Only time will tell if July is realistic.

Either way, I’ll keep working toward that ultimate end, and then it’s on to the next one.