January was a very busy start to the year, but all round filled with awesome. I finished my story for the Second Contacts anthology and submitted it a couple days before the deadline, in spite of some fears about getting it done on time. Originally my home had been to finish drafting it around the end of November (it was my only focus for “NaNo” for what little I engaged in that), then the aim was to finish draft one before the Christmas holidays. That didn’t happen either, nor did I finish drafting before the end of the Christmas holidays. Sometimes stories just don’t click when you want them to. I stalled out on it around the climax and knew the ending it was heading towards was going to be crap. So instead of finishing it just for the sake of finishing it, I reviewed the 3/4 story I had penned hunting out weaknesses and issues and scheming their fixes. The holidays were not nearly as productive as I’d hoped, but it seems the rest and relaxation paid off. The small tweaks to early scenes in the story culminated in a larger direction shift. By the time I hit the climax on the second try I was on a roll, pieces were falling together, and I drafted 1,700 words in one day (not a common occurrence outside of hardcore NaNoing) just because I knew where the story was going and was excited to get it written. I didn’t have time to put this one before the Narwhals for a full critique as I would have liked, but fortunately Derek was kind enough to offer a quick critique.
The creative writing workshop with Amal has been a blast so far. We’ve been reading short stories and discussing different elements of fiction (character, narrative voice, world-building, etc), as well as doing writing exercises. Writing exercises are the best homework.
And the storytelling show, Twisted Tales, with Marie last week was fantastic. Both of my stories were original pieces that I had actually drafted a couple years ago and then just been sitting on. They both stretched into new territory for me (for told stories at least). One was the darkest story I have ever told and got some very satisfying ewwws from the audience. The other was the most comedic story I’ve done, a satirical fairy tale, and drew out lots of laughs. It’s always great when an audience is so openly responsive to stories (they can be reserved sometimes); though perhaps after the dark and sad stories of the first set they were well primed for the relief of a good laugh. No one believed me when I said that I was going to give them something lighter after the first story.
As for February, things calm down a little, sorta, maybe not really. No storytelling shows are lined up until Marie and I reprise Twisted Tales in June at the West End Well. I’m just starting to draft a new short story for a submission deadline on April 1, switching from sci-fi to fantasy. And around mid-month I submit a short story to the workshop to be critiqued in class. Full speed ahead!