31 May 2014

Sigh. I did not finish the story I was working on, and now the month is over. I spent hours judging a contest I was running on AllPoetry, probably spending more time than I should have, but learning a great deal in the process.

Next year! Next year I should have more “spoons” at the beginning of May.

For June, however, I’ve joined a “Page a Day” challenge. That should be easy peasy, as I’ve a habit of writing around 1000 words a day (which is four pages, normal manuscript format). I’m trying to finish a novel that I started in National Novel Writing Month last November.

At least I did write and sell a story this month, so it is by far not wasted time!

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30 May 2014

Well, no one reads this blog anyway, so I think I’ll brag here even though the ToC hasn’t been released to the public yet. The story I wrote at the beginning of this month, which I finished on the 7th, I then sent through my writers’ group on May 8th. It was critiqued on May 15th, and I then spent the entire night rewriting it. Sometime the morning of the 16th I sent it off to the latest Sword & Sorceress anthology (#29). I didn’t hear back, and wondered if my submission had been lost. If so, it was too late, as May 16th was the deadline. So I queried, and was told that my contract had been sent out! So a story I began last year for Story a Day, finished this year during Story a Day, and spent an entire night rewriting and polishing was sold the very next day. That, I think, is a record for me!

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29 May 2014

Today was my writers’ critique group.  We discussed a chapter of my novel, and I got much more motivated to work on the novel some more (this was the last complete chapter) than to write short fiction.  Sigh.  So, very little work done on any story whatsoever, although I started finishing one I started in 2013.

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28 May 2014

I have nominally finished the laundromat story, but I don’t like the ending. It repeats something that happens earlier, and therefore loses its “punch.” But I really shouldn’t play with it now. On to the next story!

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27 May 2014

I spent my writing time today doing an entry for my extended family’s quarterly newsletter. It would be easier if the rest of my immediate family would give me entries! As it is, I write down what I thought were interesting things they’ve done. If they don’t agree . . . well, they could give me input! I also sent a bunch of pictures I took as we cleaned out the family home of fifty years, after it had been sold. So many memories. That project was immortalized several times in the poems I wrote for National Poetry Month in April.

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26 May 2014

So, what is it about doing a good job one day and then totally dropping the ball the next day?  Because that’s what happened to me today.  My daughter talked me into going out and sitting in the shade while she worked on the path she was building through our front lawn.  I can’t stand to just sit, so I ended up trimming back the bushes that are attempting to take over the front sidewalk.  Today was in the 80s, hottest of the year so far, I think.  Far too hot.  Now I just feel fried, even though I didn’t get sunburned.  It didn’t help that the “Grime Fighters” on my desktop computer took about three hours to clean it up.  I have two other computers (laptop and netbook), but since the manuscript was only on my desktop–I forgot to save it to Dropbox last night, at least everything I wrote yesterday–it was a bit harder to work on.  I did brainstorm the ending, which I got stuck on last night because it seemed like I’d stolen my own thunder with one of the incidents.  But I think I’ve fixed it now, and given it a bit more tension–at least brainstormed to do so.  So it should be easy to finish.  I tell myself.  But do I do it?  No.

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25 May 2014

I finally finished “Expiration Date.”  Nearly 6800 words, and it will require a fair amount of research in rewrite.  But I like the ending, and hope I can rewrite it shorter.

Then I immediately started on another story I only finished in outline form last year.  This one I started while at the laundromat, being annoyed by parents who bring their children in and let them run wild and noisy, ignoring them for several hours while they play on their iPads or talk on their cell phones.  So this one has kids who are obnoxious at laundromats, the ones it seems their parents don’t even notice, disappear into laundromat limbo.  I’m 4800 words into it, but I think I’m almost done.

Snippet from “Expiration Date”:

I came forward toward the counter, wiping my grimy hands on my apron, and smiled at them.  “Welcome to Jane’s Pantry.  How can I help you?”

“It’s–” the man began.

“Our daughter,” the woman sobbed.  “She’s dying.  Strep.  The doctors give her hours at the most.”

I nodded.  “How old is she?”

“Four.”

“Born in 2010, then?” I asked.

“Yes,” the man said.  He approached the counter and set the plastic bag full of cans down.  “We heard . . . I was told. . . .”  He shrugged and raised his hands.

“You can help her, that’s what we heard,” the woman completed his sentence.

“You’ll have to do this yourselves.  Follow me.”

The back of my shop consists of many rooms.  17, at last count.  I write dates on the doors with chalk, because their contents change over time, of course.  Halfway down the hall was the door labeled 2010-2012.  “In here,” I said, swinging the door open.

 A stale smell, dust and mildew, puffed out.  I’d only recently moved the 21st century into this room.  Before that it had been 1940-1960.

The room was dimly lit by a single bare bulb hanging from the ceiling.  The walls were lined with shelves, floor to ceiling.  Boxes and cans loaded the shelves, with very little order.  I try to keep each year’s goods together, but sometimes I can’t.

I gestured to the shelves to the left of the door.  “2010 is there and the back.”  The couple followed me in, staring around in some dismay.  “There’s a step stool, if you need it.  I can’t guarantee I’ve got her date, you know.”

 “We know,” the man muttered, not moving his gaze from the shelves.

“Aprons on the hook there.”  I pointed.  “It can be dirty work.”  I let myself out and closed the door gently as the couple, eyes wide and faces pale, grabbed aprons and pulled them over their heads.

In the front of the shop, I opened the plastic bag the man had left on the counter.  There were seven cans inside.  I set each, bottom up, on the counter.  ‘BESTBYOCT262009′ was printed on the can of green beans.  One can of soup had nothing printed on the bottom, so I turned it over.  ’31/12/2012′ was printed next to the pull tab.  The tomato sauce said ‘BEST BEFORE 31 AUG 2010.’  The second can of soup said merely ‘BEST BY JUL 2004.’  I sighed and set it in the waste bin.  The cans need a full date to be useful.

Six cans I could use, though.  I stacked them according to which room I’d take them to, and turned as the door to the back opened.  The woman was crying again, but the man held a can aloft, victorious.  “It was there, it was there!”

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24 May 2014

Sick today, so I spent a lot of the day either lazing in the sun on the swing in the back yard, or lying in bed.  Sigh.  But then I got up and started working on “Expiration Date.”  It’s up to 5000 words.  I was hoping it would be shorter, but there are still at least two plot points I want to get in.  Sigh.  I do have a tendency to write long.

Back to bed now.

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23 May 2014

I did a huge amount of cleaning today, as a great way to procrastinate writing.  Of course, I was brainstorming for a new story as I did so, instead of trying to finish the one I’ve already started.  So I have a great deal of brainstorming done, but when I got around to writing, I didn’t finish “Expiration Date.”  Sigh.  A week left.  Will I get out of this rut?

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22 May 2014

My weekly writers’ group met today, but we got a lot less done than usual because our hostess’s car had broken down on the freeway and there was all the drama of having it towed home, and the Good Samaritans who helped her actually staying to fix it! So once that was over we got a lot of chatting done, and no critiquing. That’s all right, though, because we would have been critiquing a chapter of a novel I’ve put on hold until I finish Story a Day. If we critique it next week, I’ll be in a better position to actually use the critiques.

So a very small bit more on “Expiration Date” accomplished.  This has not been a good month, for me, to write a story every day.

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