Laziness & Length
The truth of the matter is, I am a lazy writer. I don’t want to have to work out the details as I go, I want all the answers before I begin. There’s a certain smug comfort in having all the answers before putting oneself into a perilous situation. And writing down the bones and shadows and blood and guts that lurk not-quite-deeply-enough in my soul is a committment most perilous, should I ever intend to show the strewn errata to anybody. Much less hope to have them understand what the bloody hell I was on about. Which requires time and effort to edit into shape plus a lot moar words, as I tend to write short in my first drafts. So hey, I’m also a committment-phobe. Yay me.
Poetry is easier for a lazy writer. Staring at clouds or stuffed purple octopi while cogitating on just the right word or turn of phrase requires almost no effort whatsoever; at least it feels that way, as if I’m merely channeling the poem before it passes along the quantum string to the next voice that can echo it to the universe. And as long as I keep up the pretense that it’s a wandering poem seeking voice that I just happened to stumble upon at the right time, I don’t have to commit to any effort with poetry. Maybe commit to chewing up a pencil every now and again when I’m on the third page of a freeform death epic involving green jello. But pencils are soft, and easy to chew.
On the other hand, not just breathing life into characters – entirely OTHER PEOPLE, mind you – but also having the temerity to follow them around, rootling about in their thoughts, as well as the arrogance to dictate what tragedies may befall them next, is fucking hard work.
Ok, maybe the arrogant bit isn’t so tough for me. I wouldn’t have kept writing in the first place if I didn’t think that somebody, someplace, NEEDED to read what I wrote. If only because I have that same need. See? Lazy.
Short stories? I’ve been knocking brain boots together trying to write a short story or three by way of avoiding finishing a novel. All of a sudden I’m finding them harder to write. I’ve always been a bit dubious about what exactly constitutes a short story, not so much when to step into the story but rather when to stop. What is enough. Where exactly, the short story is ‘done’ for the precisely correct given value of ‘done’ that equals ‘short story’…
I’ve been lucky to get good feedback on the shorts I’ve written. Problem is, when I hear: “this is great, but I want to know more about what happens next,” my inner editrix or drill sergeant or whomever the fuck is fucking with my head at any given moment bellows: “this is inadequate to the purposes of a short story – thinly drawn/plotted/characterized, and altogether simply not good enough… Needs Moar Words + You’re Doin’ It Rong.” And then I shrivel up and blow away into the corner behind my printer and shinai and don’t come out for another six months. So not really “all of a sudden” finding short stories harder to write, more like “all of a sudden” willing to go public with my cringing and whinging and cowardice. Oh, and laziness. Let’s not forget laziness.
Where’s arrogance when I need it?
Given the above, you’d think the shortest short form would be a cinch for me, but I haven’t really swung hard at flash fiction, which is altogether odd given my proclivities. I like the tight little constraints of 500 words or less flashing a tooth or a bit of pink at me when I stray too far over the line. I’m into elaborate mental ropework and hardcore editrix bondage. I like being petted and told I’m a good girl when I get it just right. For that kind of payoff, I’ll work hard for the privilege of knowing my writing is out there in public view, immobilized naked and spread-eagled all over the page for total strangers to wander along and read from any angle. I need that hit of knowing that at least one of those strangers is getting off on my prose.
Because like any other form of intoxication, the first one’s free. Like any other addict, my need trumps laziness every time. And I’m just arrogant enough to believe that I can keep getting my fix.
Guess I better get to work.