Guitarists are out; truckers back in.
A few minutes ago I did the last tweaks and sent "The Boys of Pleasure" over to to see what he thinks. has read it twice, caught my errors and assured me I didn’t cut anything that broke it in half. First draft was almost 11k, and the final was 6872, even though Scrivener said 6900 when I exported it, the bastards. I think they were counting the heading WHICH IS NOT FAIR. Anyway, if I cut any more it won’t make sense, and soon I’m going to make it choppy if I do it myself, so it’s time for new eyes. Frankly, I’m sitting here more than a little stunned, because honest to goddess, Thursday morning I had no idea I was going to do this, and now it’s Saturday night and I’ve shipped it out. Feels fucking bizarre. And I laugh, ruefully, because I was just wishing that once, just once I could have a story flow right out of me. Well, it was lovely. But now I’m feeling all achy and sad because it’s already done. This is what comes of writing short.
Actually, writing these two short stories for Brad have been some of the most important work I’ve ever done. My god, it’s so fucking hard to make it short, and I always look at the doubled word count and think, "No fucking way." And, technically, I have yet to hit the 6k boundary, but I think only 800 words over is pretty damn good, considering where I started. It’s hard to get a story out in just 11k, but it’s even harder to take that same down by half. But it’s good work, and it’s very instructive. When I wrote the first draft Friday, I chased all these rainbows that in the end took me to better places but were no longer necessary; there was this obsession with hands which even Dan said, "Um, you could cut that down a bit." I did odd things like insist they go to the bathroom because they’d been drinking so much. Well, who the hell cares? Who is paying attention to THAT? Somebody, maybe, but it killed the pacing and took up words. And all manner of dithering and overwriting hit the floor, too. There were some cute asides that maybe added some color, but they weren’t essential, and so out they went. And then there were plenty of quirky little things that I chuckled over in the first draft, thinking I was so damn sharp I was going to cut myself, but then when I reread it today they were always the first to leave, because mostly they were masturbation. But then there were things I worried were way, way too cheesy that ended up becoming anchors, and when I redid the first few scenes, I put in some foreshadowing to reinforce them, and now the cheese is vital. Of course, all this could change again. Writing. Such a funny thing.
But this is really good for me, because the same work I put into these short things is what I do for the novels, even the gargantuan tomes of Etsey and SMALL TOWN BOY. They’re just longer and more complicated to piece through, but the skill set is the same. Writing these two shorts has given me the courage to look at TSV and think, "I could shave ten to twenty thousand off that puppy, if I had to."
This said, I must now do the hardest part: putting the damn thing down. Penelope at her loom has nothing on me with a story; I could reweave for the rest of my life, always finding a better way to lay the threads. Which is why, even though it feels batshit to be sending something to Brad two days after he said, "How about something contemporary with a musician?" I sent it anyway, because now I will look ridiculous if I futz with it and keep sending amended drafts. So tomorrow it is back to SPECIAL DELIVERY and Sam and Mitch, who are currently standing and looking at the Platte River in western Nebraska, Sam with a handful of his mother’s ashes clutched in his palm. I will unquestionably call Sam Sid for another eight thousand words, just as I called Sid Sam almost half the time while I wrote TBOP. And I will have to stop listening to Lúnasa and Pauline Scanlon and start listening to Imogen Heap and The Partition soundtrack again.
But first, one more "Morning Nightcap" and "Farewell My Love, Remember Me."