Unfortunately I am one of those people who seem incapable of writing if I’m busy looking at the clock. I need to know I have no commitments in the near future in order to meld into the keyboard. If I feel the deadline for the pre-work shower looming, then I cannot write.
This week I have been working the late shift, which means starting work at 2pm. And because yesterday I also worked a late shift, it means my head didn’t touch the pillow until well after midnight.
I admit, I am not a fan of early mornings, so when I finally crack my knuckles in front of this very screen, I am already peeking at the little clock in the bottom right corner, already warning myself that I must not be late for work, and it is those warnings that prevent me disappearing inside my story; I always have one foot in there and the other out here, not a good frame of mind for story-telling.
On a lighter note, I did manage to punch out somewhere near seven thousand words earlier in the week. Of course quantity has no real relationship with quality, but it gives me a good chance of finding not only the few quality words I’m looking for in later revisions, but propels the story ever onward coalescing the hitherto chaotic thoughts whizzing around inside my head.
The seven thousand words literally fell out onto the keyboard in a wretched frenzy that lasted a little more than five hours, after which I was spent. But it was worth it; the story has taken a great leap, and as I look now at what I wrote then, I seem to be reading the work of someone else. I note the flow of thoughts and the utter disregard for anything even close to correct spelling and punctuation, (grammar too is given a hard time) because I’m only interested in the thoughts. The words are the bricks that make the imagined design stand up and be visible as a three-dimensional object others too can see. Most words have annoying red underlines, green underlines, blue underlines… but the piece made me smile. The thought was there.
I recall my fingers being a blur, I didn’t look at the screen once, I barely noticed the keyboard, just let the bricks fall out onto the keys and hoped they resembled some kind of a structure when the real me looked in on them a little later. And they did, I’m happy to say.
And now I face another dilemma. No, not the editing process, that’s a task for much later. For now, I shall leave the wonderful red and green squiggly lines. I finished The Third Rule in a second massive outpouring of subconsciousness. It was a trickle compared to the waterfall I just mentioned, this one far more cautious, far more deliberate, many fewer underlines, more concentration. And when I sat back, I was satisfied.
Hours later while driving to a robbery scene, I realised I was happy for the wrong reason. I was happy because the story was told at last, but many subplots would need closing in epilogue. That thought made me cross. But another thing occurred to me too; the ending was a lie. It was there to conveniently wrap it all up. It was contrived and not at all how the character would have ended things. Though story is extremely important, the character is king. And I could see him standing in the doorway with that familiar accusing look on his face. He was tapping his foot. I had wronged him. The ending was a sham.
I rewrote it the very next day, sat back and stared again at the more carefully crafted words. And then I went to work. I drove to an arson scene this time, through rush hour, so I had plenty of time to think. And I was still not happy; there still remained too much story to hand over to the epilogue. And worse, I had wronged my protagonist again; I had slapped him in the face. When I arrived at the scene, he was there, leaning against the doorframe. And was that…yes, there was a red mark in the shape of a hand, across his cheek. He looked very annoyed. And rightly so.
And that is where I am right now. I long to write the ending again (ditching a few thousand words is easy when a few hundred will cure its ills), but alas I have the pre-work shower lined up soon, so am unable to commit to disappearing inside the keyboard. I have a proper ending in mind this time though; it has been taking shape inside my head for a few days. It will be true to my main character, it will also be true to the theme of the story – something I have tried to cling on to right from page one until now (whatever page this is, something around the 900 mark I think), and if I craft it correctly should minimise the number of subplots that end up inside an epilogue. The only downside to that little plan is that it will stretch the rest of the tale out somewhat, but needs must.