Stephanie Burgis
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Dangerous Days
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I ended up working on revisions for my first-draft short story "Red Ribbons" yesterday instead of writing my daily 1,000 words of Kat, because my brain was too mushy to write anything new. By the time I finished my preliminary round of rewrites (just polishing up the issues that [a] I could see for myself, and [b] I knew how to fix), I felt pretty positive about the story and its potential. Of course, as soon as I rounded up a posse of critiquers (and especially after I sent off the story to the first three), I then immediately realized that the story is actually a total, humiliating mess, an absolute nightmare, worse than anything even a 2-year-old could have in other words, it's all working to my usual short story schedule. I'm restraining myself from making any more changes until all my critiquers have read it, so that I can get the full range of reactions before making any final decisions.

And I got to rationalize taking the day off Kat because, in order to meet my write-a-thon goals, I needed to get the story off to critiquers in time to get my critiques back by the middle of July and take my usual week to absorb the crits (i.e., think: I can't do that! How could I possibly ever do that? There is no WAY ON EARTH that I could make that work--oh. Hmm. Actually...) before I sit down and do the big rewrites in the final week of the Write-a-thon.

But. But, but, but. I was charging ahead with Kat today, pleased with the dangerous new scheme she'd just come up with for herself, enjoying all the little banter and details that surrounded her as she tried to get hold of a pistol in the dark and then--oops. Wait. I suddenly remembered: that pistol, the one I had her looking for, was ten miles away. Tossed out through the window of the local assembly rooms as she watched. Fifteen pages ago.


So I threw out the last 300 words and started over again. Simmering.

The real danger of taking a day away from the novel isn't that you'll lose interest. The real danger - at least for brain-addled writers like me - is that you'll forget everything you wrote in the last chapter!

I'm feeling very silly now...

But I was cheered by something I just found on Emma Bull's blog. As a lot of people know, Emma Bull is one of my favorite writers in the universe, so I was thrilled to find out she'd written the lyrics of a song for the next Chris Ewen CD, "The Hidden Variable" project. (It looks like a really incredible CD, actually - the other song lyrics are written by Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, Peter Straub, Charles De Lint, Poppy Z. Brite, Shelley Jackson, Harvey Jacobs, Caitlin R. Kiernan, China Mieville, Martha Soukup and Lemony Snicket). The song lyrics Emma Bull wrote are here: Man of Action. And now you can listen to an MP3 excerpt from the song (music by Chris Ewen, sung by Malena Teves)! (It's the first link under the header 'Music for a non-existent spy movie'.) And it's so much fun. I'd recommend reading the lyrics as you listen to the song, because (on my laptop, at least), the words are a little hard to make out in the finished version - and the lyrics are too much fun to miss. ("...Does his hair smell like the smoke from burning buildings?/ Does he have a dragon tattoo on his arm?/ I’m the girl on the train with the timer for the bomb/ And I’m looking for a man of action....")

And now it's time to jump back into my novel and finish up those 1,000 words for the day (because sadly, the 300 I deleted don't count anymore)...

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