Even after all this time, I still get surprised about how this whole creativity thing works. You see, I’ve spent at least four days working on a final short story that’s due for the workshop I’m going to later this month. I’m sure I’ve spent at least 20 hours on it (probably more like 30). It’s together. It does something. But the honest fact is that (although it will eventually work, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed of it) I still just don’t like it. It doesn’t speak to me as well as it should. But it’s due tomorrow, and I was planning to brush it up this morning, do another pass after Lisa’s copy edit, and send it off.
As Tina Fey so famously says, the show doesn’t go on because it’s ready, the show goes on because it’s 11:30.
Last night, though, just before turning the light out, I was struck with a new first sentence. And by new, I mean NEW. It’s not a first sentence that goes with the work I did all week. Of course, when I woke up this morning (early, natch … something before 5:00), the story was just there, waiting for me. So I respected it. I dragged my ass out of bed, and ate my breakfast, and grabbed my coffee, and went downstairs, and wrote down that first sentence. Then off I ran. The first draft was done by 10:30 AM. Then came lunch, and a shower. The “smooth” was done around 3:00. Off to Lisa.
Of course, I have zero idea whether anyone else will like it. I assume they will, but a writer should always keep this weird bi-polar thing around themselves, so I’ll remain undecided for now. But I admit I like it. It speaks to me. It means something to me–something that I’m not sure I can really say about the piece I worked on for the last four days.
And so, I ask, did I need to put in the hours on this first story just to get to the stuff I liked? Or, if I just sat on my but and did nothing for the last four days, would this second story still have come to me? I have no idea, of course. But at the base of my heart I certainly feel that the hours with butt in chair Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday, were the ticket to the game today.