Lucy and I have been locking horns for a while now. I'll sit down to write, but instead of contributing to the effort, she digs in her heels and refuses to cooperate. I don't know what's got into her. I'm not asking her to hand me the novel on a silver platter, but she's being completely unreasonable--and when I tried to get her to open up, she brushed me off, saying I wouldn't understand anyway.
Honestly, some days I can't get a single line out of her.
Maybe she's sore about the bad dreams I've been giving her, but there's no helping it, they're essential to the plot. (And if she thinks that's the worst that's going to happen to her this book...)
Last I checked, she was blowing off her lessons (stupid! she'll get herself killed if she doesn't learn her spells!), so I decided fine, two can play this game--and I have been blowing off the novel for the past few weeks.
Instead I've been working on some short stories. Popular wisdom holds that short fiction is good discipline for writers, because you can't spend tens of thousands of words telling your story. You've got to pack a punch within a tight word limit, and that's no easy thing, unless you're Hemingway and you're showing off with your fancy-pants six-word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
(That didn't actually happen, but why let the truth get in the way of a good urban legend?)
Word economy is not my bête noire. I tend not to blather unless it's a matter of deliberate stylistic choice, and I can always pare back in revisions. Plotting, on the other hand, is my bête very-dark-gris.
(Lucy wants everyone to know that "bête noire" is racist, and although I see her point, I think it's a little unfair to criticize me, considering how I don't speak French.)
As I was saying, plotting is my... thing that is difficult. Whether short fiction can improve my plot structure in the long form remains to be seen, but I've enjoyed the challenge of crafting a tight plot in the four short stories I've written during my hiatus from the novel.
I'll have more to say about the stories if, or rather when, they are published. For now, suffice it to say that one of them is just under 6,000 words, another is just under 1,000 words, and the final two are precisely 100 words apiece.
Which is crazy. The flash piece was tricky enough, but telling a story with a beginning and a middle and an end in just one hundred words is pretty damn hard. Though if you don't believe me you're welcome to try, since it's only one hundred piddly little words. (By way of comparison, this paragraph just by itself comprises sixty-one words.)
I intend to return to the novel this week, refreshed and renewed, though I'm happy to know I can retreat to short stories if Lucy is still giving me lip.