My New Obsession

I’m obsessed with Louboutins. I really hope I can purchase a pair before they’re completely out of vogue. Without having to sell a kidney. Or my first born. Because I like him.

But my new obsession is writing flash fiction. Those are stories that are less than 1000 words.

A few days ago, I told you about a story I wrote back in college that I was going to redo for the Write to Done contest. Well, I decided to leave it alone. No matter how I tried to tweak it, it just wasn’t working. I didn’t want to force that story to ‘act right’ and possibly ruin it in the process.

So I wrote a new one. And I was scared.

Confession: since I wrote the above mentioned story over six years ago, I hadn’t written *any* fiction until this week.

I know. It’s awful. I felt ashamed and I almost gave up.

But I took a deep breath. Shrugged, said ‘Okay’, and just started writing.

Over an hour later, after several painful false starts and simmering frustration, I had an idea that I liked.

I got it down, ignoring the word count for the time being. When I finished, I sighed. I did it.

And now came the hard part. Because let’s keep it real. Writing the story isn’t hard. It’s the editing that will kill you. I spent 20 minutes writing that story. Then I spent nearly an hour afterwards and an hour the following nights editing it.

The word limit for the contest is 500 words, including the title. I had almost 800, excluding title.

The last time I wrote fiction, I hated editing. I thought each word was sacred because they came from me. Kind of like children. It really hurt to get rid of them, even if I knew the story was bloated.

But this time was different. Though I didn’t write fiction during those years, I didn’t stop writing. Blog posts, pieces for businesses, a few essays and the like. It may not have been regular, but the important thing is, I never stopped. And because I wasn’t personally attached to those words, I had little problem cutting them when necessary. As long as the main point was preserved, I was happy.

So when it came to this story, I found myself applying the same critical eye. Because I had little wiggle room, every single word had to serve a purpose. If it wasn’t earning its keep, I tossed it.

I got rid of an entire character. Cut several paragraphs. A touching metaphor didn’t make the cut (these metaphors will be my undoing, I swear).

Yeah, it hurt. Every time I highlighted a group of words and hit delete, I panicked. I had to step away a few times because I thought I was cutting too much meat away (that’s a real danger). Over the next few nights, I added a few words, subtracted more, moved things around, just to make sure I was telling the best story I could in 500 words.

It felt good. I really enjoyed it, truth be told. At one point, I spent 15 minutes trying to decide if ‘the’ could stay where it was in a sentence. I kept it, but changed the structure of that sentence.

There’s something liberating about deciding if you really need 10 words to say something, or if you could say it using 8. Or, even better, if you could make a deeper impact using only 5. It’s pushing yourself to the brink of your story telling abilities. And surpassing your limit.

I’ll let this story rest for the next month, then pick it up again in December and finish it up before submitting it. Maybe when I read it again, I’ll hate it. Yikes. I really hope not.

Have you tried flash fiction? If you have, do you like it? Hate it? If you haven’t tried it, go for it. The deets for the Write to Done contest are here.

NaNoWriMo approaches. I’m super nervous. My stomach is filled with butterflies. I need to relax.

Until next time, loves.

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