If last Thursday morning you’d asked me what I’d be doing Thursday afternoon, I might have said reading. I might have said crafting. The previous day I’d spent several hours figuring out how to make origami bunnies. It seemed appropriate with Easter coming up.
I probably would have said I’d be putting some time into preparing for the new episode of the role-playing game I would be running on Sunday. I certainly wouldn’t have said I’d be writing as fast as my fingers could move.
But that’s precisely what happened.
Afternoon came. I’d finished my daily session of typing up the “handwritten project,” and was doing a quick check of my various social media sites before shutting down. Something went by on Twitter that made me wistfully think: “I’d like to be writing a story now. Something short that’s not for someone else. Too many of my ideas lately have been novel ideas. Short would be nice.” My next thought was, “Well, why not?”
So I let my hindbrain wander. Jim usually calls me around 2:00 pm. By the time he called, I had grabbed a piece of scrap paper and covered it with a possible opening, as well as a few notes to myself. I told him I might have an idea for a story. He encouraged me, but didn’t ask for details, because he knows that talking about a story before I’ve written it often sours the idea for me.
After we got off the phone, I went to get my exercising out of the way so I wouldn’t be distracted by an awareness of a job yet to be done. Then I started writing. I wrote until I had to start dinner – and, actually, while cooking, until juggling the two became impossible. Then I reluctantly stopped, mostly because I knew I couldn’t finish the story that night and wanted to have some energy come morning. I’d written about 2,000 words. Although I’d stopped putting words down, I kept thinking about the story all evening.
Friday morning, I took care of the e-mail that absolutely could not be put off, then started writing. I wrote until my fingers were stiff, then took a break to go out with Jim (who had a half-day) for about an hour. When we came home, I started writing again. I was so completely absorbed that I lost all sense of time and place – except for the imaginary time and place developing under my fingers. By late Friday afternoon, I had a rough draft done – just under 8,000 words total.
I don’t normally work on weekends, but this past Saturday was an exception. I was so excited about the story and so eager to have Jim read it, that I re-read and edited the manuscript that afternoon, losing a few hundred words as I tightened. He then read it and, as we were cooking dinner, we talked about the story in some detail.
I also e-mailed my gamers, apologizing because I wasn’t going to be as prepared on Sunday as I’d hoped, and offering the consolation prize of my reading the story that had taken the time I’d meant use for game planning. To my pleasure, they were enthusiastic about being read to, so Sunday’s gaming session started with a reading. As I read the story aloud, I caught a few more typos – reading aloud is always a good way to proof, because you can’t skim.
Monday, I made the changes and sometime this week I’ll send the story out. I’m not sure exactly where, but if I place it anywhere, you can be sure I’ll let you know.
However, whether or not the story sells, the really important thing is that I have written the first short story I’ve done in years for no other reason than because I felt like it. Of late, I’ve had just enough “by invitation” work to fill my time and to provide a different sort of stimulation for my imagination. While I’m sort of sorry not to have a set market, it was fun to write completely free of constraints.
And, no, I don’t regret the time spent earlier in the week on origami bunnies. I actually think that concentrating on a completely new and different task proved helpful in loosening up my creative muscles.
Do I regret the time I spent planning for my game? Again, no. Actually, for this story, some of the planning I’d done for a previous game slid in sideways and provided me with my starting idea. The story that resulted had nothing at all to do with the game, but the research turned out to be like a graft on a plant – flowering out something related to but completely different from the root stock.
So this week I’m back to typing up the handwritten project. I’m almost done with it, then, based on my experience with this recent short story, I’m going to take the time to read the manuscript aloud to myself, just to see how it flows.
And between times, I’m going to allow myself time for crafts and reading and all the rest. However, you can bet I’ll be ready to drop everything if the Muse comes to call.