The pollster's lament
Meditations on complexity and nuance
23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story — from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?
Over the years, I had a number of stints working for polling companies — you know, those people who call you at dinner-time and who want to ask you "just a few quick questions", from Statistics Canada on down through the food chain.
The most common frustration from those who chose to respond — and one of the reason I so seldom respond to polls of any kind, unless they're meant more to be fun than anything else — is that they almost invariably try to force the world (and the person answering the questions) to fit into a reductionist's dreamscape of either/or questions and answers.
This isn't so bad when the question is whether you prefer to the Montreal Canadiens to the Toronto Maple Leafs (hint: the correct answer to this question is "Yes"), but not so good when it has to do with morally complex questons about public privacy or private morality.
For quite a long time, I thought the best story I'd written was one called "Old Friends" (In memory, at least, I still think it is pretty good. I think I'll give it a read and might then add it to my Hall of Juvenilia. But I digress.)
"Old Friends" was the kind of story I'm sure every writer wishes to have written. It came to me in a flash of inspiration, an image and a concept. I rushed to my typewriter, rolled a sheet of paper into the capstan, and started to type — and essentially went into a trance. Later, I would have vague memories of pulling out a finished sheet and rolling in another, but that was it.
The next morning, I came back to full consciousness with a completed manuscript stacked beside my machine. I read it, made enough cuts to warrant re-typing it, and that was it: a story that would stand up as the best thing I'd written for a decade or so, until "Sally McCaul" came along, anyway.
More recently, I wrote the pornographic "Strangers of the Flesh" during an online flirtation quite frankly as an effort at seduction. Unlike "Old Friends", I wrote "Strangers" in the full light of consciousness but at more or less the same speed. In any event, I had a complete draft in a few hours. The intended recipient quite liked it, too, but we lived in separate cities and the seduction itself never came off.
But in any case, when inspiration strikes, I can write very quickly indeed and need little or no planning to do so.
On the other hand, something like The Valley of Shabathawan was started (a lot) more than a decade ago, has been through several drafts and many transmutations and still isn't close to ready for prime time. I don't have much confidence that it ever will be, though this mimetic exercise has given me some cause to want to have another go at it.
24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?
25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
26. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!
27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.
28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.
29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?
30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/17538.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.