Stephanie Burgis
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And the rest of it....
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So what I meant to do yesterday, after celebrating my triumph over the dreaded stack of essays, was to expound on my newest Consolatory Theory of Life. Since then, I've gotten a bit more sleep, and I'm afraid the theory no longer makes quite as much sense...but what the heck. Here goes anyway:

On Tuesday afternoon, with 19 essays left and a looming deadline and panic beating through my veins and a little voice in my head screaming "I cannot get these done on time!", I realized: I must be 3/4 of the way through the story! Because, see, the basic rule of storytelling is that the hero/heroine can't win until things have gotten as scary and overwhelming as they can possibly be. It wouldn't be much of a story if the big bad awfulness was blatantly vanquishable, would it? If the heroine just shrugged and said, "This won't be hard to fight," would we really care to watch her do it? No! So (as a writer and as a seriously sleep-deprived, stressed teaching assistant) I realized that I must be reaching the climax of my Story (or, at least, this month's Story), because I'd been facing obstacle after obstacle after complication in the past few weeks. (At Clarion, Connie Willis gave a fantastic lecture on plotting, which mainly boiled down to: throw obstacles and complications in front of your hero's path at every available opportunity!) First I got sick, then I couldn't get hold of my supervisor to discuss the essay questions (which I needed to do before I could start grading them), then I had external stress and worries come up, and it all mounted together to make the task look impossible. But it all worked out, because I had the brilliant idea (well, okay, Patrick had the brilliant idea) of doing my work in Starbucks, fueled by caffeine and deprived of external distractions. And the reward? Well, that's obvious. Tomorrow is my birthday! (Of course, the disturbing point is that, dramatically speaking, if I hadn't managed to finish the grading, I wouldn't have managed to have my birthday tomorrow...but we won't go down that path of logic, okay?)

Wow, that all looks even lamer than I'd imagined it. Ah well. Please remember that this felt like a blinding insight when I was at a very, very low ebb. But I'm over it now! And now it's time to....

...Clean the house. Urp. And it has become a total pit in the past few weeks, so this is more intimidating a prospect than usual.

But hey! Tomorrow's my birthday! And Flytrap 2 is coming out at Wiscon this weekend! So things are pretty good, after all.

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