Experimenting With Writing

Whoo! Been a while since I’ve been on here. I’ve still got two monster-big blog posts in the hopper that I’m not sure what to do with, along with a handful of other side projects. It’s getting close to planting season here in Missouri, so that’ll be occupying some of my time once I get the tiller up and running. (Philosophically, I disagree with using a gas-powered tiller, but at the same time, I’m looking to efficiency, so I’ll give it a try.)

Similarly, I’ve been experimenting with how I write. I recently switched schedules and now write for two hours, first thing in the morning. That was two months ago, and so far I’ve only missed the mark on Fridays, when I often have an early shift at work. (I usually end up writing when I get home instead.) The system seems to keep me writing consistently. (I reserve judgment as to the quality of what I’m producing.) Some days find me more pessimistic than others. An increasing reticence and stress about the current story has been plaguing me, making it difficult to work, as often happens when I start meandering.

To wit, I felt my first draft of short story, “Silkworm”, was running too slow, so I started editing. I’d hoped to correct out the pacing for the first half and, ideally, give myself something tangible to vault off of for the conclusion. (I already know how the story ends, where the characters go, and I’ve written out those scenes in broad strokes.)

In particular, I was itching to try out Susan Sontag’s method of editing, so I printed out a copy and scribbled it up a bit. I didn’t really tear into it as I was meant to, though: my edits and additions are dainty little things carefully pushed to the margins of the pages. For the most part, any addition or omission occurred in the transference from hard copy back to the computer again.

[I recently read some advice that reading copy aloud is a good habit to get into while editing: it gives you a better sense of the pacing of a story, and it red flags any unnatural-sounding dialog.]

Today ended with me stuck at around 5,000 words, looking back with apprehension at a bulky segment of flashback that I spent two days on and now morbidly pondered cutting out entirely to improve the pacing.

I want to finish “Silkworm” and move on to a new story, something clean, untainted by my stylistic meddling and constant self-correction. Something in a deep, dark hole. But to get to my desert, I need to finish what’s on my plate. Only thing is, I’ve spent almost a month working on it, and I’m still concerned about length and pacing (for its genre).


On the upside, I started writing “Silkworm” with a focus on improving my dialog, and I think it’s the strongest out of any of my work–well-applied and natural-sounding–though it took a few revisions to get it so…

©2013 by Blake Vaughn. The text of this story may be redistributed freely in its original form with attribution to the author, Blake Vaughn, and his website, www.blakevaughn.com, as under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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