Saturday, November 15, 2008

If you can't write, fill in the blanks

Coming up with a new story idea since my surgery has been like searching for an oasis in a desert. I know there's one out there; I'm just slowing dying of creative thirst while I search for it.

On the other hand, I've frequently mentioned the bazillion unfinished stories residing on my hard drive. A few weeks ago I looked through all of them and made a list of the stories that are nearest completion. Then I selected one and started filling in the blanks. That is, I completed the scenes that were mostly written and wrote the scenes that were nothing more than notes about what should happen.

I would compare the process to a paint-by-numbers kit because the creative work had mostly been completed. The pre-surgery me had created the template. All the post-surgery me had to do was put the right colors in the right places.

I started with 3,600 words and had slowly expanded it to 5,400+ words with only one critical scene still to write and an ending that had to be revised to fit the new material I'd added.

Friday, an editor--the same editor who purchased my 1,500-word story a few days ago--put out a call for February stories or stories with snowy backgrounds that could take place in February. She emphasized a Monday a.m. deadline.

I looked at my nearly complete story, realized that time-of-year was not critical to the basic plot, and revised the scenes I had written to include references to snow and cold and ice. Changing the season actually helped resolve two minor plot points and I was able to complete the 6,200-word story today.

I e-mailed the story to her a few minutes ago.

And it makes me think: Maybe there's a reason I've been stockpiling story ideas for all these years. Maybe there's a reason I had more ideas than I had time to write. It certainly helps now that I have more time to write than I have ideas...

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