Laughing At Myself

I’ve been laughing at myself. When I finished the first draft of April Showers 1921, I thought, what a mess. Then I began hunting for what to do.

I found problems with structure, character motivation, pacing, story-telling… Whatever could go wrong seemed present. Very disheartening.

I began hunting fixes, slicing like a surgeon removing tumors. Draft two was finished and stalled, then three was written and discarded, followed by four. I lamented to myself, “This is like telling the history of World War II. So much happened. How do I find the right handle to it?”

That lament helped. Although I was complaining, it was true. The novel sprawled in a million directions. I needed to reduce the sprawl and improve the story.

Meanwhile, in parallel, I was reading thrillers. I was reminded of a Stephen King quote: “I showed them what can happen, and then I make them wait for it to happen again.” I’m paraphrasing. Forgive me. Maybe it wasn’t King, too, but I thought it was.

Whoever came up with that quote, it helped me sharpen my story’s focus, and tightened my grip on the sprawl.

I created some rules for myself.

  1. Head down. Focus, and stay focused. Work hard. Concentrate.
  2. Stay humble. Ride the wave. It’s a long ride, so manage your energy and emotions.
  3. Write better. Tell a better story. Sharpen your story-telling skills.

The last was revealing. I’d always concentrated on writing, putting words after words, fixing pacing and finishing novels and stories. Now, I decided that I needed to elevate my efforts and focus on being a better writer. That would hopefully result in a better story and novel.

It required hard decisions. Cut this arc. Modify that one. Tens of thousands of words were shred.

Partway through draft number seven. I think I’ve found a grip. I won’t know until I’ve finished and read it through again.

Done writing and editing like crazy for today. Time to go for a walk and let myself decompose.

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Floofhenge

Floofhenge (floofinition) – Prehistoric monument visible only to those with quantum eyesight, floofhenge represents a period when animals ruled the Earth in harmony. The peace ended when humans were permitted to come to Earth from their world via an entrance at floofhenge. Many floofologists theorize that the animals brought humans here to save them because they were destroying their own world. Others say the humans slipped through as the animals paused at the open door to think about which way they wanted to go. (Some blame the cats.) A human artifice called Stonehenge was built in an attempt to create the same quantum doorway, but humans lack animals’ quantum knowledge, and the effort failed.

In use: “With the eagle flying overhead, and a wolf and lion on either side of her, a cat, dog, and fox led her between two trees into a glade where tall stones were lit like blue stars. The dog turned to her and said, “This is floofhenge.””

The True Focus Dream

I dreamed that I was hired for a new job. My wife had a new job, too. Although they were in the same general business park, we decided to drive separately.

I arrived on time in a suit with tie, and found my new business location. True Focus had hired me, sight unseen, without even interviews. I’d submitted my resume on a whim, so I was surprised.

But I’d take it and do what I could with it. I found an HR person who directed me to a work area, a half-wall cubicle in a huge room full of like cubicles. Lots of friendly people were about. As introductions progressed, I discovered that I was the only one working for True Focus. Most worked for another large corporation, the name either not given, or forgotten.

Feeling good about being there, I was settling into my space when a man came by and dropped off several folders and envelopes for me. One had a note from my boss, Trish, to come and see them when I had the chance. Meanwhile, here was some information to study.

I was excited. I opened one of the manila packets and discovered it full of packets of new American paper money with a note, “For your work.” As other workers ogled the money and made comments, I stuffed it in my pocket with the money I already had in my pockets.

Then I opened another packet, and found more money. I shoved it in my pocket. It barely fit.

I then took off my coat and sat down to go through the materials and read. I came across the note from Trish again. They were in office number forty-six. I went looking for Trish and discovered the offices were along the outside walls. Summing up the direction, I walked along, heading for forty-six, but realized that a platoon of people were in my way. I sussed that they were senior executives, and they were holding a wedding. Not wanting to interrupt, I decided I’d try again later.

Crossing back to my cubicle, I realized that I’d removed my shoes and trousers. I knew where I’d put them, but when I got there, I discovered someone else’s pants and shoes were there. They looked similar in color and style to mine, so I tried putting them on, but they were too big for me. I figured I was the butt of a joke, but I needed my pants and shoes, thanks.

People noticed the missing attire. I waved them off with a laugh and explained, “I’ve been retired. I’m not used to working clothes like this.”

My cubicle had been moved. It was full of people there for training. That miffed me. They apologized, but they were doing as they were told. I shrugged it off, deciding that I’d work around it for now and sort it later. Someone brought me my pants and shoes. At that point, I noticed that my fingernails were painted dark gray. I laughed about that, remembering that I’d been fooling around and painted them, and then had forgotten about it.

The money felt wadded in my pocket, so I took it out to organize it. I keep pulling money out of my pocket. People passing noticed it, and made jokes. I finally got all the money out, smoothed it, put it all together in fat bundles, and put them back into my pockets.

I went to find Trish in forty-six again, but remembered that I didn’t have my pants on. Returning, I put them on, and set out again. I reached forty-six. It was a small office with a woman and two men in it set across a table from one another. They were about to close the door to start a meeting. The woman said something about who I was, that she didn’t even know me. I gave her an arch reply along the lines of my name and the fact that I was her new hire. One man, who looked like an older version of Ron Weasley from the early Harry Potter movies, said, “Oh, you’re my new hire. I’m Trish.”

He asked me if I had the True Focus mission statement. I said, “No, I didn’t know that I was supposed to bring it.”

He said, “The mission statement is what it’s all about.”

I said, “I’ll go back and get it,” and walked away.

Dream ended.

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