Another Life

I wrote 7076 words yesterday.
I wrote 2092 words on Sunday.
I took Saturday off.
I wrote 1427 words on Friday.
I wrote 3839 words on Thursday.
I wrote 3909 words on Wednesday.
I wrote 500 words Tuesday.
The day before that I didn’t keep track but it was probably under 500.
And every day before that I probably averaged between 250 and 400 words.

For the last, I don’t even know how many weeks. I’ve lost track, this has been my life.

This, my friends, is Sammy. THE STORY! He comes in first draft at about 20,500 words. He is the biggest thing I’ve ever written.

It started with a series of road trips. A day upriver in Boiestown & Doaktown. A day downriver in Tabusintac & Neguac. A day up the Nor-west. A day down Escuminac. I knew what the story had to accomplish, but I didn’t have a clear idea of how to get it done. At that time the writing was more experimental, casting words upon the paper to see if I could catch a voice or an idea. It wasn’t coming easy. I was trying to be too accurate. The facts were creating obstacles and holding me back.

Then I watched The Wizard of Oz every night for a week. I would pause and rewind and watch certain parts again, freeze-frame, scribbling dialogue and ideas inspired by it. Ok, I thought, I’ve got it, if I go a bit more fantasy then I don’t have to worry so much about accuracy and facts. A light bulb moment!

I wrote more words, but again I was just casting the net, hoping to hook a voice. Nothing.

I scribbled an outline on a single sheet of paper in my notebook, writing three and four lines per one ruled line on the page, printing smaller and smaller to make it fit on one page, drawing arrows, circling important stuff I didn’t want to forget, scribbling in the margins as new ideas occurred. It looks like a foreign language, maybe Chinese.

Ok, I thought, the story is plotted. Now, I’ll find the voice and we’ll really start cooking. But with an outline that was a series of undeveloped points like: He goes to Blackville, meets a bunch of people, maybe a girl, visits the restaurants, and leaves. I still didn’t know where I was going, really.

I wrote more and more. I wrote everyday. I started to get frustrated. Time was running out and basically I had no voice, I had nothing, the story was empty. Yeah, I had thousands of words, but they were bad–really, really bad. I took a few days off to let the ideas fuse in my mind. Took to the paper again. Nothing! I was starting to panic. Holy crap! The biggest story I’ve ever had to write and I got nothing!! What the hell?!

So I went to a writers meeting. Even though I was stressed and feeling like I had no business taking any time for anything other than Sammy. That was a month ago. And luck of luck I ran into a dear writer friend I hadn’t seen in a long while, who happens to be a prolific novel writer. She cranks it out like nobody I know, and it’s good! I begged for a secret, some advice, anything to get my mojo going. A detailed outline and focus, she said. Really be hard on yourself, push out every last word. Follow the outline and always be pushing forward. Be conscious of your word count. When you get distracted or pull out, use your outline to keep you on track and find your way back in. Another light bulb moment!

Re-inspired and energized I went home and started typing an outline from those scribbled notes. I typed the outline in bold letters intending to use unbolded normal type for the story. I wrote very passive: Sammy goes here and meets this person and they do this, but I focused on plot and making sure I knew exactly what was happening at every step along the way. I broke the outline up in sections based on the places he visited. Bold block paragraphs.

Writing the outline itself took many days. I started to panic again. This wasn’t even the real writing! And it was taking forever! But I kept on writing it, because I didn’t know what else to do. I still didn’t have a solid voice to hang my story on. When the outline was finished it was 20 pages. Yeah! 20 pages, single-spaced, block paragraphs. Crap!

So then I went back to the beginning and started the writing, following the outline. And I hadn’t written two words before I was hit by a realization–sometime during the outline writing ordeal I had found Sammy’s voice! I could hear him! Oh joyous day! All is not lost! And I started from the beginning again.

By then my writing muscles were good and pumped from the outline. I had started at first with only a few hundred words everyday and I was done, brain toast. Then gradually more and more. When I hit 1,000 words in one day, I was crazy with excitement. When I got 2,000 another day I went over the moon. Yesterday I wrote in excess of 7000 words! That’s like two or three short stories. In one day!

I can’t be certain, it’s only been one day after all, but I think Sammy has turned me into a writer again.

Mood: high on Sammy
Drinking: water
Listening To: chariot, gavin degraw
Hair: a headbanded greasy unruly mess, kinda mike reno circa 1984

2 thoughts on “Another Life

Add yours

  1. Congrats on seeing yourself as a writer again! Was getting a bit worried about you…hoping you had no absenthe. lol. You could’ve taken crazy one night and in the name of research…cut yourself some gills. lol.

    Now, about the hair……


  2. You ARE a writer. And being one of the chosen few to read the Sammy story, I say congrats! I love it and I know everyone else will too when it finally goes to print. You did it and you should be proud! Maybe celebrate with a trip to the hair salon…..


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