Sunday, May 29, 2011

Q: How long does it take you to finish a work?

This was a question asked during my "Ask Me" Poll conducted a week or so ago that I didn't get a chance to answer.  But the question has floated in my head for awhile, so I thought I'd answer it in a separate blog.

The truth is some works take me much longer than others.  I worked on The Grim, my first (and maybe last!) novel for nearly five years!  It was painstaking, and it took quite a bit of determination to decide I was going to finish it.  I would plan to write, and when forced to stare at a screen and churn out pages, I often struggled with the result.  I could spend hours trying to generate copy that I oftentimes ended up deleting.  It wasn't for lack of passion on the subject; I have determined that I simply can't write unless I feel inspired to do so.

This goes for my short story and prose work as well, especially the prose.  Stories come to my head like visual plays.  If I can see it taking place, it's not hard to describe.  My prose comes from an emotion, something I'm feeling intensely at the time.  Sometimes that feeling is of joy, or relief, but mostly it comes through as pain.  If you read my last blog, Suffering More: a Lesson from The Five Heartbeats, I described how pain is often the most identifiable emotion we have, and because of that, my most powerful prose works are usually derived from some sort of intense heartbreak.

Typically, a short story takes me a matter of days, sometimes even hours.  This does not include the editing process.  Prose flows out of me in the moment, and once written, I don't edit except to correct spelling or grammar.  This is to preserve its original intent and depth of feeling.  I like my prose to feel as raw to the reader as the emotion was when I wrote it.  As far as novels go, I may never write another.  I have several unfinished manuscripts in my arsenal, and whether I'll ever complete any of those or attempt another is something altogether different.  Personally, a novel is a commitment that I cannot frequently make; it can be emotionally draining and is without doubt a tedious and time-consuming heartache that I find not easily endured.  For many mainstream authors, novels can be churned out for mass consumption, but a journey like The Grim is meant to resonate, and, therefore, cannot be duplicated.

Because I have to see the story in my mind, I tend to need peace and quiet when I write.  The atmosphere has to feel calming and empty so that I can fill that space with what I see in my head.  In this kind of environment, everything flows almost effortlessly, and I can finish a project (or put a sizeable dent in it) in a matter of hours.

Thanks for the question!

1 comment:

  1. I think poetry is best when it isn't edited or corrected. Any changes made after its done tend to ruin the affect of the poem.