Thursday, July 24, 2014

Live Writing Post-Mortem

When Big finished his story last week, he did a follow-up post talking about how it went.  I guess I'll do the same.

"A Lovely Singing Voice" is a long story, just under 25,000 words (which I'm told is a novella).  Most of the eventual published version (although I guess this too is a "published" version) is identical to what you read here, just with a few alterations and a couple of small additions.  Big and I have talked about my rewrite process, and I am an adder rather than a subtracter.  I always want to know more or see areas where I could expand, or new scenes I could stick in there, and I'm thinking of one more conversation Tanissa and Brekkyn could have while playing Monopoly that examines how the mer-girl first discovered her powers and how she ended up with the woman she forced to be her mother.  I think there needs to be a sentence about how Brekkyn has grown tired of this motherfigure and will soon replace her with another.

If you listened to my appearance on Big's Anklecast recently, you know that my experience wasn't as organic and natural as his was.  I was trying to replicate a lost story, and then suddenly, I didn't have to replicate it anymore.  A lot of times, it wasn't a matter of how much writing would I get done in a day, but how much typing I felt like doing.  And so, Big's experience was a much truer one, a greater accomplishment. 

But he's eager to do it again (he even said something about writing all of his stories like this, from this point on), and that means I will do it again too.  I don't think I'm the type to keep up this sort of thing for long, but I'm susceptible to peer pressure, so I'll be happy to write when he writes.  And if it means more people are reading my stories, I suppose that's good.

Back when I originally typed and podcasted about this story, I believe I remembered it as being the greatest thing I'd ever written--nay, the greatest thing a human being had ever written!  That was my mind's way of torturing me because I'd lost the story: building it up in my memory as though every page was poetry and every word was perfect.  Once I rediscovered the manuscript, I found there were problems with the story, and scenes where I was less interested in what I was writing (those scenes tend to get really short and consist of only dialogue, or worse, shift into present tense thinking--erroneously--that I'll fix that sometime in the future).  It's not the greatest thing I've ever written, let alone the whole humankind thing.

But I still like the story.  I tried to write from the point of view of a character I'd never done before (and Big did in his story as well, though probably not affected by my own plans), and there is no reference to myself in here (although in the rewrite I was going to have it be me that sold the iPods to the girls, or rather "sold" the iPods to the girls).  Tanissa started out twelve, then became thirteen, and may have gone back to twelve again (I can't remember), but I have no idea what a kid in the 21st Century is all about, or whether any of her dialogue or thought processes are even close to believable.  I did forward this story to my niece, who is now thirteen, and asked her to read it, but so far, she hasn't even opened the email (that I know of).

When I got the last of the story typed up, I sent a text message to Big that read, "I just finished my story.  As soon as I did, I was IMMEDIATLEY filled with the suspicion that it was no good."  (yeah, I misspell stuff).  But the commenters seemed to have enjoyed it, and now that it's been a few days, I like the story, as I said, and I'm glad I got to share it with people.  I struggled with it before writing it, knowing I needed a rational explanation behind the creepy pale girl who could make people do as she liked.  I was at work when I started thinking about siren songs, and the crazy notion of making the girl part-mermaid hit me.  I texted Big then too, telling him of my epiphany.  I forget this reaction, which was something along the lines of "Okaaaaaaaaaay..." but out of context, it must have seemed like madness.

In context, though, I think the mermaid element is what makes this story unique from anything I've written before.  Fiction writing is a kind of alchemy--a mysterious, almost magical process--and while it may be boring to those who don't do it themselves, it's endlessly fascinating to me, even when I'm doing the alchemy myself.

Hope you enjoyed the fish tale.

Rish Outfield

1 comment:

Journey Into... said...

I did enjoy this fish story, Rish. I was totally worried for Tanissa and her dad, and wasn't sure how brecklyn could be overcome. Your solution was both familiar and totally unexpected, like getting Medusa to look at herself in a mirror. Great job.