Week Two: Clarion West Write-a-Thon Report

Tentative Project Title: Short Mercy “The Judge of Fools Abandon”
Current Word Count: 5539
Goal Met? Yes

There are a few reasons I’m not a particularly fast writer. I mentioned one of them last week: my rather poor attention span, as it pertains to various writing projects. I’m a dirty story hopper: I will mercilessly jump from one idea to the next.

Another problem is that I’m a bit of a control freak/perfectionist, and I have very specific ideas about how sentences sound, how one paragraph should flow into the next. Transitions are a big deal with me. I can literally spend an hour fixated on writing and rewriting four lines, even in a first draft, when normal people are just sketching out their basic ideas. (And you’d think that, at least, this process would lead to a near-perfect first draft, but this does not seem to be the case, a fact that I continue to be bitterly annoyed by.) Also, in the deadly war between gardeners and architects, I am, overall, a dedicated foot soldier in the Architect Movement with only a few treasonous forays into gardening territory.

So, the good thing about having a weekly word count is that it forces me to skip past a lot of hemming and hawing because I don’t have time for that nonsense. I can’t just stop for an hour and brood because I don’t know exactly what two characters are going to talk about or because there’s a sentence that’s being a stubborn little shit: I only have a certain amount of time to make my goal, so I have to ignore all these troublesome things and just write the fucking story. It’s the only way I ever survived Clarion West — fake it till you make it. Just keep on going.

As an annoying side effect, though, I can just feel my story getting puffier and puffier and more disordered by the minute. As an example: I just hit the 25 page mark, and I’m only now getting into the courthouse for Em’s first trial. Now, this is a longer work, and I have a decent amount of backstory to set up, but that doesn’t excuse 24 pages of non-trials in a story about a woman who’s been kidnapped for the sole purpose of being a judge.

For the moment, though, I’m ignoring it — or at least trying to. On the upside, I think I might have finally figured out a way to have This Important Thing happen at the end without it being a cheat. Woot.

Before I leave to go read Neil Gaiman’s latest book, I figured I’d point you in the direction of another fellow write-a-thon-er: M. Huw Evans — who I went to Clarion West with — is taking writing prompts from the people who sponsor him. I’m linking you to first part of the flash fiction I prompted because Huw’s a good writer and, also, because he called me witty. Aw. I like you, Evans.

Two weeks down, people. Four to go!

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