This past week, I learned something about writing I hadn't known before: How intense it can be.
I've been writing a short story to submit for an anthology for the last several weeks. I thought the deadline for submissions was January 15, and I started the story around December 15, so... not a lot of time. But I already had the story and characters in my head, so how hard could it be? I'd just whip that baby out and get it sent.
Have I ever told you I tend to run off at the keyboard? Words can just roll out of my head, down my fingers and onto the screen. And they do like crowds. For instance, this anthology wanted a maximum of 6,000 words. My rough draft was just shy of 15,000 words.
But I wasn't worried, even though I was already into January. I couldn't send it off without at least one re-write, and I always find 'unnecessaries' during re-writes; unnecessary words, phrases, paragraphs, heck, even unnecessary scenes! So, even though I needed to eliminate 3 out of every 5 words, I didn't let myself worry.
During that first re-write, I eliminated 6,000 words, leaving me with just under 3,000 words that still had to come out before I got that story small enough. At this point, a piece of me began to fret. Where could I possibly find that many words to remove and still have a story?
Now that I'm done, I have a theory: Once you eliminate the first layer of 'unnecessaries' (or layer of dirt in your house), your eyes can then see any remaining 'unnecessaries' (or clutter, trash, dirt) that you missed during the first run-through. If you've followed me on facebook these last 2-3 weeks, you'll know that I did get that story trimmed down to just under 6,000 words, and got it submitted on January 15th. (In the meantime, the deadline was pushed to February 15, but that's another story.)
Where does the intensity come in? Actually, it made itself known on the 16th. I got up, had breakfast and went to my computer as usual. As I was considering what chores and projects to tackle, a piece of my brain said, "Pull up that story, I bet we can pull a word or three from-" and I responded with, "No, we're done with that story. It's time to move on." It turned into quite an argument inside my head. I didn't get any work done that day. When I mentioned this internal argument to a friend, she said, "That shows how intense you became with your work on that story.
Intense? Me? Not an adjective I usually apply to myself. Then again, I don't usually have projects with such a tight deadline, either.
It's nice to know that, yes, I've got it in me.