MY heart still hip-hops into my throat when I open my Yahoo account and see on the
“From” line of an email, the words “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
It’s the line that appears when they are sending a rejection, an acceptance…or actually maybe a rewrite. Any which way, I always take a moment before I open it. If I prayed, I guess you’d say that’s what I’m doing. Luckily for me, they like my “Stranger on the Porch” bit and are going to publish it sometime in the future. Hooray!
This is actually a piece I’ve adapted from my novel. As I’ve said before, I’ve been struggling to keep the seat of my pants in the chair. When I’m doing one thing, I’m often distracted by another. In this case, the idea of writing a 1000 words has so much more appeal than rewriting 80,000 words. But I have resisted the lure of flash so far this month even though titles and ideas on how to make those titles work assault me at the sink, in the shower, on my walks. Then one day–mid-anguish/temptation–I had a revelation.
Since I use a dramatic arc in each chapter by opening with conflict, torturing my character, and finally having her take some action–the same dramatic arc that I use for a story as a whole–I wondered if I could cadge something from the novel to satisfy my need to send off a submission to EDF and thereby not get totally out of the world of my novel characters. Write flash but have it benefit the novel too. Maybe chapter 1?
I took a look. Yep the arc was there, but I’d have to whittle it down to fit the 1000 word criterion. Wow. An amazing thing happened during this process.
Because I wanted to flash the chapter, I brought to it a much more critical eye, and suddenly realized how much better it was turning out. The whole experience reinforced my belief that parameters create in a writer the ability to dig deep and come up with something better than if there are no parameters.
What happens in this first chapter of my novel is not straight forward, and I’ve often changed it, edited it, played with it. But this time I knew I had to achieve more clarity for it to stand on its own as flash. The images became sharper, the character more interesting. Whittling worked again. What an incredible lesson I keep learning over and over.
Now my hope is that people like it. That it stands on its own. I hope it’s as good for you guys as it was for me.