This was very likely to turn into a long, rambling collection of words that wouldn’t end up saying anything at all. It felt like that kind of night. Actually, it’s felt like that all day, maybe even longer than that. Despite my best intentions, it may yet turn into a bit of a ramble. It certainly feels like it could.
The good news is that the Muse hasn’t left me high and dry. I’m still sitting down every night and making progress on the short story in waiting. I sit down as close to 7PM on the nose as I can manage and don’t get back up until there are at least 300 fresh words sitting in front of me. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes, other times closer to three hours. Admittedly, sometimes the words that end up there just plain suck. More rarely, the ones that appear are actually rather good. Like Gump’s chocolates, when I sit down I never know what I’m going to get.
As far as I’ve been able to tell, the quality of the output doesn’t particularly matter. What seems to matter is the routine, the habit of writing consistently day in, day out, when you’re sick, when you’re tired, when there are a dozen other things screaming out for your attention. What matters is sitting down and letting the words flow – or sometimes forcing them to flow against their will. It can feel like that a lot.
What I’m going to end up with 4000-odd words and 14-ish days from now is generously called a first draft. I know that draft is going to suck… and I don’t mean just a little. It’s going to be God awful – full of half formed ideas, words that aren’t really words, and phrases that are repeated on at least every fifth page. That’s fine. Not fine for public consumption fine, but fine by the standards of the first draft. It means finally there’s something there that wasn’t there before. Something that I drug into the world kicking and screaming out of my own head and onto the form of evil that fills me with the most dread – the blank, white page with its solitary flashing cursor.
Even after it’s no longer a first draft – maybe a 3rd or 4th version – after it’s been anointed as “final” I know I won’t be entirely happy with it. I’ll want to change and tweak and craft just a bit more. Right now I know it’s not even in the realm of good enough, but it will be. I think. That’s the theory I’m working under, anyway.
OK, yeah, so maybe this did turn into a long, rambling collection of words despite my best efforts to the contrary. Sorry about that.