Had a day back at work today, but I’m off tomorrow. It’s a funny way to come back from vacation, but it gives me the feeling of one more day. Got my yearly review, and while all went well from it, even the praise made me feel uneasy. Don’t want them expecting more from me or anything.
Other than that, it was a rather uneventful day. I caught up what I missed not being there a week, and came home and watched the first episode of Dexter for the season. That’s some seriously messed up stuff, there. Love it. I haven’t really been reading lately, but the Dexter books have been on my list for a while. There’s something unaccountably quirky about them that just intrigues me. However, since I’ve had a book sitting on my desk since the start of my vacation that I haven’t touched, not to mention a 100 page story on my e-reader that I’ve been (ever so slowly) working through, my reading list will not get much shorter. Which reminds me, I saw a book I thought looked interesting the other day, but I never did make a note of it. I ought to go download a sample (to cozy up to the 50 other samples cluttering up my library) just so I remember I wanted to read it.
Whoops, tried to do that and can’t remember the title. Oh, no, I actually did. It’s not available as a nookbook. Really James Lovegrove? No e-book? Oh, I see, a Kindle book. Thanks, Solaris. I’ll just have to read my other book instead for now. Blood and Other Cravings edited by Ellen Datlow is the book sitting on my desk. I just love the title. Yes, I know that shows my cute little goth insides, but there is something about the title that just slithers inside my brain quite delightfully. I’ve had other books edited by Datlow over the years, and I’ve grown to like anthologies of short stories more (in my old age). I find something interesting about giving a loose topic to ten or twenty writers and seeing where their brains go. There’s always something interesting and clever that turns up, some new take that maybe isn’t enough for a novel, but the idea is brilliant in a short story.
I used to dislike short stories. I always wanted more than just a few pages. It didn’t matter if the story was concluded, or that it was wrapped up so neatly in its tiny package. I wanted to see more. I remember reading “Harrison Bergeron” by Vonnegut in high school and really being taken by it. By college, Vonnegut was one of the few authors whose short stories I really enjoyed. I did a paper on some of the other stories in Welcome to the Monkey House. It’s kind of amazing the amount of world contained in just a few sentences sometimes. I can only aspire to that.
I feel distracted now, having gone to read the story and now have a clanging in my head disjointing my thoughts. 🙂
One of the points I wanted to make today was my inability to be decisive. So many of my decisions are made with no real intent. I didn’t do anything much on my vacation because I never got around to doing anything. I didn’t decide to do nothing, or to rent movies and stay in bed all day. I simply put off making a decision to go to the video store, and by default, decided not to do so. I put off deciding to write, and thus flipped through channels on the television, unable to find something I wanted to watch enough to sit through commercials. At one point I did decide to go to the craft store, but my last entry discussed what resulted then.
And my inability to finish a novel or two? More than lacking the decision-making skills to firmly decide that I want to write and want to publish and want to make something of my life, I lack the ability to decide exactly what happens to my characters. Even at the point of editing (because, if nothing else, NaNoWriMo has given me two basic manuscripts on which to work, though I lost half of one due to not backing up) I cannot decide what to change and what to keep. I cannot decide if I should add more characters to make things more interesting, to give the book more conflict and more plot or if I should leave the story as is. I can’t decide whether to put some characters I’ve planned in earlier, or take them out of the ending. I don’t think I want to have them just show up at the end; that’s too Deus ex machina. Here’s characters you know nothing about coming in to save the day.
As I edit through, I print out and set aside chapters I consider done. I look at them and think that there’s little more I can cut, nothing more I need to add, and try to make a decision. But then I get two chapters later and think I ought to add this or that to chapter one, or add a prologue, or …
And my question becomes, when am I done? When will each little decision take hold, announce itself king, and bend the other instances to its will? When will I know each decision I’ve made is the right one?
Of course, when I was in school, I was bored when I didn’t have a challenge. And now I’m complaining about the very thing.