Thursday, February 02, 2006
1,700 Words an Hour?
February has started with a flurry of submissions, but the writing is very ho-hum.
I feel empty of fresh, worthwhile stuff. Oh, I could bang out 1K Flashes that'd be "OK" but I have them coming out of my ears. What I need is a bit more serious stuff, strong enough to pitch for Fish, Bridport or a few of the US comps, and of course New Yorker, Paris Review, Glimmer Train et al.
I also promised my downtrodden spouse that I WOULD finish one of the novels before August.
I'd do that, no problem if it wasn't for school-runs and stuff. The SR used to be best part of an hour and I've got it down to half that but that is still 5 Hours a week simply zapped. Add in two weekdays with an extra hour and one where it's three and that is a full eight-hour working day taken from me every single week.
This morning, pre-log I wrote 2,550 words in 88 minutes, 1,700 an hour. Those eight hours could be 13,600 words IN A WEEK!
of course, there's the small problem of making them GOOD.
I say above that the school-run is "wasted". And that's a serious thought. But for the course I ran in Wales I looked at one school-run and produced an article "Writing While Driving is Legal".
I was basically reminding myself how much there is to see if only we would LOOK.
Nice segue here to something with the Open University. I was asked to look at a Rembrandt painting (The Artist in His Studio) and write about it. Just "looking" it's an OK painting and I like the colour etc. Having to write down what I see and start to "interact" I kept seeing more and more and more.
I have no idea if I was imposing meaning (watch this space) but the process reminded me of my blind-spots reading poetry and the hundreds of BCers who take years to "see" short-stories.
We were just discussing a story in BC, "Genteel Potatoes" by A L Kennedy
Discussion in 99% of writers sites are loose and general, powder puff and unpindownable. This one started the same:
Great read, I would think 130 (referring to a BC score)
Pleased you liked it. I thought 140.
I came in and bawled a few people out, that we CRITIQUE in Boot Camp, not chatter. The first three crits came in with scores of 118-120. That's interesting in itself. My view was that the story was OK, but mostly presentation covering up a very small plot with a stock theme.
The point is (and 120 is a very good score, just not "The Ledge") that proper critiquing made people see a lot clearer and learn something instead of just nodding at a story because the author is a name.
Potatoes seems to be a recurring theme recently. We had a BC story where a woman was peeling spuds, then this one, and yesterday I had to read a Seamus Heaney poem about the author peeling potatoes with his mother.
If you're interested Seamus, I got that one.