It was a long week here in Fringeland.
I’m still waiting to hear back about the fulls that are out for Astonishing, and still waiting to hear about the apartment. I could send more queries, but I don’t want to. Not yet. Frankly, I can only hold so many details about who has what in my wee brain before I’m overwhelmed, and this feels like my limit. Sure, I have it all written down, keep notes and dates, but still. Nothing like endless waiting to make you feel insignificant. Passive. For someone who writes, passive is a cardinal sin. Good stories, good characters, have readers turning pages because they want to know what happens next. Nothing happening, pouring the ninth cup of coffee? Yawn. If I were a character, I’d write myself out of the manuscript, or make horrible things happen to force myself to act.
Clearly, the answer was to start writing that story I’ve been thinking about. Never mind that I wasn’t ready to start writing. For a lot of people who write, that is the answer. So I opened up a fresh blank Word document, and started writing. I didn’t write the whole story, but a lot of it. And it sucks. Because while this method works for many, it doesn’t work for me. Not for short stories, anyway. I have to be ready, the characters need to be complete and clear in my mind, even if I don’t actually know exactly what they’re going to do until they’re doing it.
I have some very kind and generous followers here in Fringeland. Kind and generous enough that I would bet $5 that two of you read that last paragraph and thought to yourselves (whether or not you’ve read any of my fiction), “it doesn’t suck, Mrs Fringe is being too hard on herself.” Nope, I’m not. Sometimes I write things that I think are pretty good, and sometimes I write things that I know should be burned, never to be seen by readers. It’s part of writing, and in my opinion, it’s an important skill to have.
But between the unending waiting, the passivity and the suckage of that short story, I had a couple of those days. Odds are if you write, you have them yourself. The ones where you’re convinced that you have nothing to say, no grace when saying it, and every file in your thumb drive is evidence of your inability to phrase a coherent sentence, let alone craft a story someone would want to read. This then leads to, “that’s why I haven’t heard back from the agents. It isn’t because it’s conference season, or because there’s been 15 strains of crud viruses tearing through the city and I’ve seen many of those agents Tweet about being sick, and it certainly isn’t because they’re busy working for clients–you know, the ones that allow them to pay their rent, eat, and read queries and requested material. No, no. It’s because of the unbelievable level of suck in my manuscript.”
And then I had a day where I was laid out with the mother of all migraines. I’ve gotten them for years and years, very familiar, and this might have been the worst one I’ve ever had. My skull felt like a damn eggshell for about 24 hours after it ended.
Last night Fatigue came for dinner. Turns out I wasn’t yet ready to enjoy a beer, but still, it was a nice evening, and after Art Child went to bed I read him the next two chapters of Astonishing–our current Friday Night Madness routine. We’re past the halfway point in the manuscript, the tension is tightening, and Christina (main character), well, Christina is starting to really feel the effects of her drinking as she makes poorer choices, and the lines between real, surreal, and plain old alcohol warped perception become more blurred. Fun, the last scene I read to Fatigue ends with a quote from Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy. Fatigue is a cabaret singer with an amazing baritone, and after I finished–you know I didn’t sing the lines with my Edith Bunker voice–Fatigue sang them.
And I had this moment. Because Astonishing doesn’t suck. It was a good scene, a good couple of chapters, and there is enough there for me to still believe this manuscript will be the one. It was the right time for me to write Astonishing, and I think it is the right time for Christina’s story to be read.