Sunday, February 15, 2015

What I Learned Writing The Burning Sand

The Burning Sand (here on Amazon) was both the hardest and the easiest of all the stories of A Dark Road so far.

Easiest: the writing. I spent far less time actually writing that the previous 3 stories - maybe only half as much. It flowed. I didn't sweat over it for hours cutting it from 7,500 words to 5,000. There was no agonizing over what to take out. The whole thing came in just over 4,500 words and it didn't feel forced in any way.

In hindsight that was due to two things. First: the story is extremely linear. It's simple. There's not many moving parts to figure out and allot screen time to. Second: I'm actually getting better at recognizing what's essential to the story I'm trying to tell and what's extraneous to it. I did very little backtracking. I recognized the blind alleys in my head much sooner, rather than following them for hundreds or thousands of words before I saw it. Although that wasn't something I noticed at the time it's very cool to see it now.

Hardest: despite it being dramatically less work I slipped by an hour submitting to Amazon. I was still up at midnight on Sunday night. The the better the writing went, the less I was able to keep myself at the desk actually writing.

On the plus side I got the pool filter cleaned and the lawn mowed on Sunday. That might not sound like much but mowing our lawn is something of an adventure. Especially after four weeks of high rainfall, lots of sun and zero attention. I had knee-high trees growing out of it (true).

The weird thing is that right up to the weekend I always felt like I was ahead on the writing. Even though I'd taken my foot off the gas I convinced myself I was tearing up the tarmac. By Friday I was only halfway through at best with no sense of urgency.

While that warm self-deceptive glow is a lot more pleasant than drowning in doubt and self-disgust - this is total shit, I'll never be a writer, actually I've never wanted to be and so on - functionally it's identical. I wasn't finishing my shit.

But I got it done. It's up on Amazon next with it's three predecessors. I'm proud of that.

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