An adequate, but slightly short of satisfying, evening of work on the current short project tonight. My output is steadying, and is higher than it was, but it’s still well short of what it needs to be before I start producing, and feeling, like a professional again. I think my mental muscles are going through the same painful reawakening as my physical ones have been at the dojo.
My trail is littered with the stubs of stories I began for CSFG projects and this one, working title “Blood Machines”, is one of the earliest and consequently one of the dustiest. Yes, stories grow at their own pace, yes, you’re ready to write the thing when you’re ready to write it, but really, if I don’t get this hammered out and into the submission mill before its age hits double digits then I’m going to start feeling a little silly. I don’t yet know how it ends, but I know how this scene ends, and how the next one begins, and that will do, that will do for now.
One thing that’s given me pause about the several incomplete stories I’ve put at the top of my to-finish list: they have a rather startling amount in common. In each a protagonist has to deal with something invading or violating their life and/or self, and deal with it essentially alone; all the endings and victories are downbeat and bittersweet at best. There were enough resemblances between them to stall me and almost stop me finishing the draft of the previous piece (working title “Molting”, now sitting quietly maturing on the laptop waiting for me to go back and set about it).
I’ve spent some time trying to decide: am I in a circular rut at the moment, just repeating the same story and fooling myself with different trimmings, or will these stories become a proper body of work exploring different aspects of a theme? Although I wasn’t working to any conscious plan, the fact that I picked these stories out of mothballs and installed them at the top of the to-finish queue must mean that these themes are playing on my mind somehow. Or is it just stiffness and laziness?
As I often do, I’ve over-intellectualised, over-analysed and tied myself in knots trying to work that out, but of course the only way to really know for sure is to write the things. These stories may end up being mutually derivative and shallow, but dammit they’re at least going to be mutually derivative, shallow and finished.
I went outside briefly just before I wrote this, and the night is a beautiful fresh one, warm enough for T-shirts but with a breeze cool enough to invigorate. The lights on my building all have an orange cast, except for the one on the east wall under the trees which is a bright greenish-white. I walked up to the head of the driveway, but in the whole street I couldn’t see any lighted window but my own.