I am, excepting the Bill Murray film, not a fan of Groundhog day. This is a state which stretches back to childhood, when I first realized the stupid joke upon which it is founded and realized that it was propounded by people who come from a latitude where astronomical spring and the local effects of that season actually line up. Winter, in the gross local-effect sense, can start in my little patch of the world as early as the first week of October. It can last long enough to see the high school seniors struggling to their grad proms through drifts of snow only slightly reduced by the Sun’s power. All hearing about the power of a rodent to see its shadow or not does is make me want to start punching people.
I was, in fact, unbecomingly pleased to hear that one of the Canadian incarnations of the prognosticating beast had died. One should not, except in the case of specific Hitlers, take joy from the death of a fellow being. Such is the state this day puts me in.
Having said all that– I’m using today to announce something that also displeases me. I figure that I can’t taint this date in my own mind any more than years of gritted teeth have already managed. There’s an apology involved, too.
When I began this little effort of mine last fall (and it was, uncharacteristically, autumnal here, but I digress), I had some misgivings about my ability to keep up with an unstated pace of a couple of new stories each month. These misgivings have borne their unwelcome fruit, for my shot-locker is not bare but it doesn’t have much ammunition left in it. Having caught the attention of some followers over the past few months, I find I now have to admit that I can’t maintain the pace.
In a desperate bid to garner sympathy, let me explain my writing process. The first draft is done long-hand; some people will cry out at as being a slow way of doing things, but I find an advantage to it. I’m not tempted to fiddle away with edits when I should be letting the creative centres of the brain run freely with their tongues lolling. Also, in this initial phase of the activity, the actual words are coming no faster than the pen can race; images, perhaps, appear more briskly, but not the words to convey them.
Second draft is the point at which things pass through a keyboard. Since I am at this stage editing and re-working some of the more convoluted stuff the “who’s this ‘syntax’ fellow?” creative centres uttered forth, this is not brisk typing. A particular brisk patch recently works out to about 20 words per minute. That’s not a complaint, mind you– I can transcribe faster, but when actually processing the material, I’m quite pleased with that sort of productivity.
Third draft, which is usually what you see in the stories here, waits until a couple of patient readers look through the second, pronounce certain elements of it still gibberish, and point out that I completely forgot a verb somewhere. This is useful stuff, and I’d hate to do without, but it’s also the work of volunteers, who act only when other demands on their time allow.
Speaking of demands on time– there’s plenty clinging to me, too. Thanks to job, and a son who really wants his dad to share in all his joys (mainly Thomas and Friends, but with occasional excursions into more sophisticated diversions, plus sleds, swimming, and/or bicycles), I can count on as much as an hour each day to perform the writing task. Keeping in mind that, as Douglas Adams noted, “as much as” includes the amount none at all, I get absolutely giddy when I can get a moderate-length story shoved through first and second draft in the space of two weeks. Third draft doesn’t take much work… once the notes come back.
Even leaving aside stories that curdle in the initial draft (usually a result of point-of-view error, but in some cases a more fatal deformity), to get things polished enough that I dare let them see the light of public scrutiny takes not less than three weeks. Without a substantial change in the household finances letting me set the day job aside, or some kind of compassion blow-out which will allow me to ignore my family completely, that’s not going to change.
I’m not… wait, that’s insufficiently emphatic. I’ll go again.
I’m not shutting down the operation here. I’m just letting you know, you who have taken a moment to poke the “follow” button, that there will be a little less action here. The occasional flash story will still appear, too– those things don’t take more than a week from mere notion to gem of deathless prose (hah!). I’d rather reduce frequency than polish, and I’m hoping the various readers of my stuff are similarly inclined.