I have a lot of work to do this month. At work, I have a variety of projects that I’m testing and shepherding. I have a new employee’s training to oversee. I have to write a performance evaluation for the first time for another employee. I have a presentation to prepare for a conference coming up in early March. And then there are all the little fires to put out as they flare.
And so, when I found that I couldn’t sign up to hand in my first story for class after the conference, I decided to get it done sooner rather than later. I would have signed up to hand it in last week, but I was going on a vacation to visit my family and I didn’t want to make myself try to write it when I’d be traveling and visiting for so many days.
So I signed up to hand mine in yesterday. That due date gave me a nice, non-travel weekend to work on it. And I had everything planned out. I scheduled myself to write 1000 words each day on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and, if needed, Saturday. Sunday and Monday would be revision days to get it into shape for sharing.
In part, I believe, because of my success with the January Tabata challenge, where I committed to and did two 4 minute exercises every day that month, I rose to the challenge of writing a story on a tight timeline. I had no time to work on the story during work. Even my lunch time wasn’t a good time for writing, because my brain needed to relax and decompress.
I wrote about 1000 words of story on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I wrote more words of background, trying to figure out who my character was before I wrote her story, because I felt like the stories we had read the previous week by students had trouble in part because the author didn’t know who the character was. In that, I feel I treated it more like the literary-focused class would have preferred.
But then I wrote into the dark.
I placed my character in a situation and figured out where it was going by writing it. A break in routine led to more characters. A vague idea of what might happen next developed into something I didn’t expect until I wrote it. And I never imagined the ending from where I began. I had fun with the story. The words weren’t difficult, for the most part. I just needed to keep exploring.
Since the writing into the dark technique of Dean Wesley Smith’s worked so well, I went ahead and submitted the story to a magazine before I even handed it out to my workshop classmates. I got a rejection for it yesterday, and I’m going to send it out again. It’s a story I like. There’s no reason not to keep it “in the mail.”