Today is a double post. I realized this was an entry all on its own, and important enough to get its own entry.
The chapter I finished last night started off in my little black notebook, written in my nearly indecipherable coded language, known as Clint’s handwriting in cursive. The older I get, the worse it becomes too. Most of the time I can’t read it, which means that my ideas and secrets are safe if I ever lose the notebooks. It also means that as I transcribe the writing to electronic format, I can’t read much of what is there either. Fortunately, it’s more of a mnemonic trigger. If I start transcribing and then the writing takes over, generally I cover whatever I had written in the notebook. To my surprise, this even includes specific words and details I will later decipher from reading the notebook again, just to make sure I caught everything. It’s almost as if the story is there, and I am just uncovering it and bringing it back into the light.
The little black notebook is the perfect bridge from the brain to digital. It’s an analog tool that acts as a capacitor of sorts, slowing down the impossible speed and clarity of the mind to something the computer can deal with.
Last night was a tricky piece involving a Rashomon method, where I tell the story one way and then from another character’s POV it is something else entirely. I’m hoping I can pull it off. It was a lot of fun to write. I think it also worked well with the pacing, and rather than breadcrumb the reader into the big reveal moments, which are already highly telegraphed, I can just drop them in the middle of it, and they can enjoy the ride. I think that will free up the story much better, rather than put all these Agatha Christie-esque A-HA! moments into the book. This is only the first draft, so anything is still possible.
I have waffled on word counts. Like many of my writer friends, I used to use them as a measure of progress. I still keep an eye on them as a way to feel satisfied. Anything under 800 words, and I feel lazy. So I try to increase that whenever I can. But the numbers are arbitrary. Yesterday, combined with the blogs, this blog, and the chapter, I probably wrote around 5,000 words. Around ten years ago, I could write a 10,000 word short story in one day, then spend the next two weeks whittling it down to publishable size.
The word counts mean something, since they can show that I am just phoning it in and could be pushing myself further. Much like the steps we count to stay in shape. The important thing for me to get into the habit of is pushing myself until the words stop working, until I hit the point of exhaustion. That could be 500 words. Or it could be 10,000. Right now, about an hour and a half is what I am back up to. I’m letting the story tell me when it is done with me.
This morning in the shower, the story tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me it was still there. It’s some changes to the chapter from last night. Sometimes it would be nice to have a little privacy. Scared the hell out of me!