This morning’s missive comes to you from a person who has been trying to put together a flash fiction piece for the past three hours, and who is starting to foam a little at the mouth.
So, here’s the deal. I have to create a story between 140 and 160 words, based around a picture prompt and a word prompt, and I feel like the proverbial camel going through the eye of the needle. My brain has a story in it, but it would take an entire novel to tell it properly, so getting it down to a teeny-tiny tale is proving (almost) too much for me. I am definitely feeling the Friday frazzle, and I have an idea that today is going to be a challenge.
My head is tired. My shoulder aches. My eyes are blurred. Writing is a hazardous endeavour, don’t you know?
Almost *exactly* like this… Image: skybackpacking.com
So, it’s been a busy few days for me. This past week, I edited ‘Emmeline’ on-screen. I thought things had gone pretty well; I’d managed to take a huge chunk out of my wordcount, bringing it down to a far more reasonable level. The book had seemed reasonably strong, and I felt I had a good, stable base to build draft 2 upon.
However, then I also started the process wherein I print out my work, in order to take a pen to it and slash it into ribbons. As before, I have been amazed by the difference between looking at a text on a computer screen and seeing it, in the flesh, in front of you; errors that I just didn’t see when I was writing the book, and even during the first editing go-round, leapt out from the printed page. I found myself drawing lines through whole paragraphs of carefully-worded text, excising them without a twinge of conscience – but it’s so much easier to do that than hit the ‘Delete’ button. Watching your hard work disappear into oblivion before your very eyes is a lot more difficult than just scribbling over your printed text. At least your words still exist, after a fashion, beneath the scribble, but when you hit ‘delete’, well. They’re gone forever.
The short of it is this. Draft 1 was all right, but not as strong as I’d thought. Draft 2 has, hopefully, started to spot all the stupid mistakes and the mindless repetition and the poor word choices and the clunky dialogue and the idiotic descriptions, and here’s hoping Draft 3 doesn’t see me putting them all back in again.
The process has been excruciatingly, painfully slow, though – I’ve only got as far as page 53 – and I hope this means that I’m doing a good job. I just want this book (complete with a shiny new name, which I’m keeping under wraps for now) ready for querying as soon as humanly possible, so that I can move on to my next project, which is already butting at the back of my brain. Such is the never-ending conveyor belt of life, isn’t it – just as you’re trying to finish one job to the best of your ability, along comes something else which needs your urgent attention. Oy vey.
Today, I need to take care of some writerly stuff, but also lots of non-writerly stuff, such as taking myself off for a long draught of fresh air, and doing some stretches, and remembering what life is like outside of my office. I may even bake some cookies, like the crazy renegade I am.
In the meantime, here is that piece of flash fiction, written in tandem with this blog post (finally):
Statue of the Republic, with the Court of Honor and Grand Basin (1890s)
The image (above) had to be combined with the idea of ‘Destiny’. Tough, isn’t it?
So, of course, I decided I’d write about something really complicated.
The Stonecarver’s Boy
At his birth, his mother wept.
‘A daughter would have been wiser,’ frowned the doula, taking him away.
His training began immediately. He grew within the workshop, chisel in hand, prodigious and alone. From a distance, his mother watched.
In time, the Emperor took a wife.
‘Let it be his masterpiece,’ came the order.
His mother tried to warn him; once, she even passed beside his workbench, so close she could feel his warmth, but her dropped note was swept away.
The finished statue was fit for a goddess. On its raising day, The Imperial Guard came for its maker, and – willingly, unknowingly – he went.
‘You will never better this,’ decreed the Emperor. The blade fell quickly – there was no time for anguish. He never knew his fate was sealed from the day he was born, like all stonecarvers’ boys.
The Empress’ statue was anchored with its maker’s blood; a fitting memorial stone.
Happy Friday, and happy weekend.
I am a warrior!