I had been writing every day this month. Not a lot, some days. Looking at my tracking, I’ve ranged from 12 words, up to 3989 just a couple of days ago. Mostly, though, it’s been two-digit days. Last night? My day went from a good day, wrapping up the week with getting away from work just a wee bit early, stealing time to take a walk… and then it all went downhill. Let’s just say that single parenting a teen is for the birds, and elide over that. It doesn’t help I’m back to counting calories and hunger makes it difficult to think straight.
I’m not going to feel guilty about it or anything. I was able to get some editing in, and I did my daily art challenge, although the lackluster reactions to that seem that I missed the mark there, too. Rendering lines into a story is, like rendering random loose words into one, not always easy. With digital art, I can at least edit. Real ink? Not so much.
I had the privilege yesterday of looking through a past chemist’s lab notebook. I was given it with the dubious… ‘he didn’t write much down, I don’t know that it can help you.’ With a man who’d been doing this for decades, I understood the not writing much down. Enough to jog his own memories, with shorthand for chemicals that he’d known for longer than I’ve been alive. However, when I look at it long enough, it starts to come alive for me. Seeing the patterns in how he developed and refined a formula. The terse comments on margins. The marks of approval, where I can see he went further a step, then pulled back and realized he’d overshot the mark. And if he was doing what I think he was, he did that on purpose. Tracking the target to make sure he couldn’t have gotten it any better.
There’s no editing a lab notebook. You write in them with ink. You spill things on them. There are smears of color here and there, some pages positive gauds of pinks and reds. There’s no editing a painting. Oh, you can. There are ways. And you can always embrace the ‘happy little accidents’ if you choose. My medium is watercolor, not as easy to scrape up as a still-wet oil. You work quickly, each stroke meaningful, and you can’t look back.
Editing a story, on the other hand. Well, I haven’t really gotten the trick of it. I can and do make changes. I’m a pantser, and part of that seems to be that once the story is out of me, I have trouble envisioning it any other way. Not that I never make changes. Just… few. So when I overshot the mark by a few thousand words on an anthology story, I’m looking at it thinking that I’m not sure where I can edit that much out. Further, when I got some beta feedback, they mostly said it was fairly tight as it is. Other than the one who came back saying it needed more, a lot more, and I’d have to flesh it out. Hah!
When I’m writing, I write what I see/hear/feel in my head about the story. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. It isn’t quite ‘watching a movie in my head and transcribing it.’ There is a most complex interaction with the characters who are, after all, figments of my own Self. They don’t feel like that to me, though. They are their own individual selves, and sometimes do things I don’t understand at first. Often enough I’ll get further into the story and the light will dawn, but it’s not always something I planned consciously. The end result is often that the world surrounding the characters is simply there, like the reality around me. If there is a reason in-story to explain it in depth, I will. Otherwise? It protrudes into their reality like a finger poked through from our reality. I don’t like to do it. If I put in description, it’s minimal, enough to thumbnail sketch for the reader, and leave the rest to their imagination.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, for those who have seen my art. One line should convey emotion, expression, and let the mental image bloom from there.
Today? I will attempt to write again. However few or many words that may be.