February 3, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
I am most definitely not at the stage of story development I like to be at two days before a story slam.
I have a draft; it’s about 500 words too long, the emotional arc is not clear, and it has no ending. I am not one of those people who write better under pressure – at least not where my storytelling is concerned. I am a very slow cooker. And I’ve been rather spoiled in that regard for the last year or two.
When my freelance grantwriting business failed during the recession, it was hard to reenter the workforce.
I finally found a part time grantwriting job, twenty hours a week. I moved in with a friend, lived very simply. There was next to no money, but what there was was time. Time, and energy. Time to cook nourishing meals. Time to walk. Time to sit in coffee shops with other creative people and mull ideas over and write what I wanted to write. I found I worked best in three hour blocks; I could map out the process I used to work on stories for different events several months in advance.
I got used to the luxury of time.
Now a lot of my time and energy is being used learning a second job. A job which is making me financially secure again, for which I am extremely grateful. But at the end of the day, I am lucky what’s left of my mind can read, or surf the web, or watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.
This blog is my lifeline where idea generation is concerned.
But I haven’t quite figured out when the mulling and the working and reworking is supposed to happen. At this point I need to move beyond a memory dump of all I remember about a particular event and decide exactly where in that steaming pile of manure the actual story is. To rid the page of what the story’s not.
The quotations we’ve used to explore the word “frisky” have ranged from the deductive pronouncement of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – “A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one?” – to friskiness as playful flirtation in Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing,” to the ironic description of the “frisky, eager and exuberant” young men in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 who “were glad the war had lasted long enough for them to find out what combat was really like.”
The emotional tone of each quotation is quite different, and yet there are aspects of each in the supposedly five minute story I have right now.
That can’t be good.
And then there’s this final quotation from Henry David Thoreau, that seems to want to work its way in as well:
It is pleasant to walk over the beds of these fresh, crisp, and rustling leaves. How beautifully they go to their graves! how gently lay themselves down and turn to mould!–painted of a thousand hues, and fit to make the beds of us living. So they troop to their last resting-place, light and frisky…. They that soared so loftily, how contentedly they return to dust again, and are laid low, resigned to lie and decay at the foot of the tree, and afford nourishment to new generations of their kind, as well as to flutter on high! They teach us how to die. One wonders if the time will ever come when men, with their boasted faith in immortality, will lie down as gracefully and as ripe,–with such an Indian-summer serenity will shed their bodies, as they do their hair and nails.
So whether the story I am working on now will actually be in good enough shape to put my name in the hat on Tuesday night remains to be seen.
Fortunately I have a reason to finish my “Frisky” story it whether it is ready for the Slam on Tuesday or not.
Because I need to deliver the final version here, next Monday. Thanks, blogosphere. In the meantime, I would love to hear from those of you who have day jobs and are trying to be creative on top of that work.
Do you have a special technique or discipline that helps you find the time and energy to do the creative work you’d like to do on top of the work you have to do?
Let me know in the comments field, here or on any of the social media platforms I post to.