First, I just wanted to say I am saddened by the loss of Roger Ebert. We were on different sides of the “video games as art” debate, and he didn’t like “Short Circuit,” but he was a great writer, and no one loved film as much as he did. Living here in Champaign/Urbana, where he’s from, I’ve talked to quite a few people who’ve run into Mr. Ebert around town, and they all say what a great guy he was. This doesn’t surprise me, and I really wish I could’ve met him myself and shook his hand. Goodbye Mr. Ebert, and thanks.
Recently WordPress informed me that I’ve had this blog registered for two years. If I actually publish this post, and not just save it as another local draft in Live Writer alongside a dozen others, I will have a total of seven posts on my blog.
Hang on. Let me do the math.
That’s 0.285714 posts per year!
Actually, this iteration of RoyKClaflin.wordpress.com is the third since starting it two years ago. I wrote some posts, deleted them, wrote some more, deleted those, then started this new blog in December of 2012.
My interests are fickle, and so is my blogging.
But moving on.
I had the day off yesterday, so I sat down in front of my computer, queued up some video game soundtracks as background music, and wrote a three-thousand word first draft for a short story in about four hours. First time I ever wrote something from start to finish in one sitting.
I’m trying something new with my writing. Basically, I’m doing something most writers are already doing, and have been doing for their entire careers. I’m treating the first draft as, well, a draft. No erasing, no editing, just streams of words. I started out with a vague idea of where I wanted the story to go, had one good character in mind, and I just went with it.
And it worked. It worked beautifully. It turned out better than I thought it would.
My plan is to let that first draft sit, unread, for a few weeks, during which I plan on writing something else (the same way). Then I’ll shelve that second one, take out the first, read it, read it again, make some notes, then rewrite the whole thing. Once I’m satisfied and I’ve corrected all the spelling and punctuation, I’ll submit it for publication and do the same for the second one.
Apparently many writers follow similar procedures and no one told me.
This is a good lesson. I’ve always been the sort of person who insisted on doing things their own way. This meant discovering the entire process on my own, building it up over time, until the whole thing ends up being unrecognizable to anyone except me.
For a lot of things, this may work well (time will tell, I’m afraid). But sometimes I have to admit that I’d been doing it wrong the whole time, start back at square one, and maybe ask for help.
And as stubborn as I am, that last part is pretty freakin’ hard. Of course, help isn’t hard to find, and sometimes you don’t even have to bother anyone.
My most recent source of help was an author named Stephen King. I’m not what you’d call a “huge fan” of Mr. King’s fiction, but I certainly don’t hate his stuff. I picked up a book of his called “On Writing,” which I highly recommend to anyone who like books. Not just writers, in other words. It’s an excellent read, and while lots of books are full of knowledge, this one is full of wisdom. To be clear, it’s not quite a “how-to” guide for fiction writers. Mr. King shares his own experiences and some of his process, but he won’t be able to turn a bad writer into a good one (he says almost exactly this in, I believe, the first chapter, but I can’t check because I already returned the book. Yes, even though I linked to the book on Amazon above, I actually got it from the library. I’m cheap.).
So yeah, I got help from a book. Maybe “asking for help” wasn’t the correct phrase. More like “quietly, anonymously seeking guidance from a person who doesn’t even know I needed guidance, and likely never will.” Better. The only person I even slightly inconvenienced with the whole thing was the librarian. I learned a lot, and I was able to apply it. I think the end result will be way better than it would have been had I stubbornly refused to listen to Mr. King or anyone else. At thirty-two, I’m still learning how to do things, and that’s good.
About the story I’ve just written: it’s science fiction, it’s short, and it’s not done yet. If I can place it with a magazine, I’ll be sure to mention it here and on Twitter. And maybe with a giant sign at the end of our street.