Much of the time, writing comes for me in fits and starts. I spend a lot of time treating myself like an old car, thumping myself around, muttering “come onnn,” and making vague promises and threats. Once in a long, long while, though, something magical clicks into place, and I get to spend a little while being the kind of synapse-firing, electric writer that I want to be. Yesterday was one of those days.
I wrote a story in a day, people. I wrote an entire story, beginning to middle to end, in a day. It came in at 3,174 words. Most days, I’m pleased if I hit 500 words, thrilled if I get past 800. During NaNoWriMo, my go-to insane writer’s challenge, reaching 2000 makes me feel like an overachiever, since you only need to write 1,667 to stay on track (I know. “Only.”). This is half again over the kind of overreaching goal I set for myself once a year. Forgive me for bragging, but I am feeling pretty boss right now.
And it was easy! For one glorious day, every time I sat down and opened the laptop, the next sentence came forth smoothly, and the next, and I already knew which scene needed to come after that. I nearly missed my stop on the Metro because I was so engrossed in what I was doing. It’s a good thing I happened to look up to think of the right word and saw “Metro Center” on the board, or chances are I would have been halfway to Vienna by the time I realized I’d been riding too long. It’s a good thing my stop on the way home is the end of the line, too, because it happened again. I only noticed I was there when I realized I was the only person sitting in my car of the train. All in all, between Metro rides, my lunch break, and two power sessions back home, the actual, physical writing of the story took about three and a half hours.
This is not, of course, the same as saying that the story took three and a half hours to write. I’ve been mulling over the world of the story for weeks now, ever since my professor mentioned there’s this crazy experimental poet who wants to use DNA strands as a medium for writing poetry and I thought, how cool would it be if human DNA did have poetry encoded into it? What would that mean for science, and literature, and religion? Who would read it? What would happen if someone didn’t have it? I took a couple stops and starts because there were so many different ways to go with it and I couldn’t figure out whose story I wanted to tell. So two days ago I got frustrated and spent my lunch hour putting together my notes of how this world worked, and who my characters were, and what they wanted and why. I don’t usually take that kind of prep time before writing, and I’m still not sure if I’ll make a regular practice of it, just because one of the things I’m learning is how different stories can be from each other. Practices that feed one story can suck the life out of another, but for this story, at least, making an outline worked in spades.
Next week is revising time, so chances are I’ll be grumbling again, but for now I’m still on the high. These are the moments to hold onto all the other times when nothing is working, and I hope next time I find myself in that place I’ll have the presence of mind to reread this and remember the rush.