Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Monday, 26 August 2002

My main fiction-writing accomplishment today was coming up with a tentative order for attacking my backlog of rewrites. Not only that, but I actually started on the first one. Well, "started" is a bit strong. Mostly I just reread my notes from the critique and got out all the marked-up manuscripts. I've only gone through about half of them so far.

Still, it feels like an accomplishment to me. Somehow I've been kind of resistant to the idea of doing the rewriting. I'm not quite sure why. Partly it's just that I've been enjoying writing new stuff. But I worry that I'm resisting finishing stories, because then I'll just have to send them out to be rejected. I haven't had a problem with that in the past, so I hope I'm not developing one now.

The on-line New York Times had an essay on beginning something new that captures my sense of it very well. The time just before I start to put words on paper is the best. The story is perfect, I haven't made any mistakes yet, and everything is possible.

The story I've started rewriting is the last of my Clarion stories. I'd held off on doing this one because I didn't agree with the comments of my critiquers. I'm still not sure I agree, exactly, but I understand and have come to terms with what they were saying. I think I have an approach to doing the rewrite that will address their concerns, without defeating my own view of the story.

It was worth waiting an extra year to work on this one, to get to this point.

I have extra critiques for this one because Jim Kelly was the instructor, but Pat Murphy used it as an example on her first day of class. Lot's of great comments.

Sunday was a Chambana Speculations meeting. They critiqued the story I wrote while I was in Kalamazoo. I got some really good critiques, and have an idea how to go with this story now. The ending needs to be reworked, but that'll be easy. More problematic is bringing the theme out clearly. I didn't really have a theme in mind as I wrote it, but the theme is there even so.

Steven Barnes had a suggestion for bringing out theme in a story. He suggested that you structure the story so that each scene is alternately an argument for or against the theme.

That's obviously also a model for writing a polemic, but with a light touch I think it could work very well.

Tomorrow, on to the rewrite.


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