What next?

I finished "A Funeral for Massachusetts" last night: six thousand words in four or five days. It will probably get longer in revision and might even hit novelette length, 7,500 words.

Mostly today I'm tired--I sacrificed an hour of sleep to get the ending down on paper, and I'm feeling it. I'm trying hard not to be one of those teachers who depends on coffee to function (even some professional journals recommend a coffee habit) so usually I stick to herbal tea and water at work.

"Massachusetts" isn't done yet of course. There's a complete first draft but there are definitely a few places I want to clean up, some sentences that were the start of ideas I left unfinished because better ones came to me. I'm going to work on making it better but I'm proud of what it is: the character is worked-out and complex, the structure is subtle but makes sense and fits the theme, the pace doesn't drag even in long passages of contemplation, the language is punchy.

But now what comes next? I want to keep the momentum up. Build the habit of writing every day, they say, even if what you write is crap.

My process tends to word like this: I have some image that grabs me. A story builds around that image in my head. I write down a one-sentence prompt in my notebook (it's a LibreOffice spreadsheet) and that's enough for me to recall the whole plot and structure; sometimes while writing I'll use an outline. Then I just find quiet moments outside work and I go to it.

My notebook has some decent ideas in it, I think. I might return to "False Dawn" which is another thing I plotted out years ago but never got into (somewhere an ancient hard drive might have a page or two of a draft). What I should be doing is reworking the ending of "Bound in a Nutshell" a little: we need more time with people reacting to all the stars going out.

For today I'm going to sip my tea and get a good night's sleep.

Edmund Schluessel

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