March 25, 2009

Too Many Irons in the Fire

I feel safe in saying I am a different writer now than when I began six years ago. When I first sat in front of my computer screen to write a simple little ghost story, I had a one-track mind. Granted, I'm not much of a multitasker at the best of times. Actually, you could say I still have a bit of a one-track mind. If I'm writing, my mind tunes everything else out. I think it's something I picked up as a television junkie who got used to ignoring family and roommates while engrossed in a show. If someone needed me to listen, that zombie box better have been on mute or they'd only register as white noise in the background. So when I started writing, that was it: I wrote a story and that was all I set my mind to.

Now, I find I've got a few too many irons in the fire. It's my own doing. My horror novel is in it's third draft and being proofread and edited by my literati uncle. So, I try to leave it be until I have some proper feedback to use. While that sits on the back burner, I have taken to writing short stories. I haven't written short stories since high school—every one of them burned in effigy after graduation along with every text book and written work during those tentative years. It's a form of writing I both enjoy and loathe. I enjoy it on the basis that it's a great creative outlet to try little story ideas and scenarios that have crossed my mind. I loathe it because it is ironically more taxing to fit a story into such a limited word count than a novel.

When I wrote the novel, it was like free range writing. With a short story, the ideas are penned and caged like chickens in a Kentucky Fried Chicken coop. It's a solid way to hone writing skills though, and I say "loathe" facetiously. It can be a little annoying though, when I write a rough draft that meanders for a while only to discover I need to either shave it down considerably or throw it to the wayside, as an editor isn't likely to touch it with it's current length.

So, I write a rough draft—some good, some bad—and let it stew while I move on to another one. My problem now is I have multiple drafts of different stories ... all unfinished and each in need of refinement. To look at them as a whole, I find it daunting. I need to focus in and pick one. Reread it, edit it, rewrite it, and reread it again. Do this until I have a final draft I am happy with and submit. All this "write something and let it rest while you write something else" might work great for novels, but I'm finding that the advice isn't helping me at all when it comes to short stories. They're stockpiling, and I need to cull

One-track mind, baby.

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