Working at Writing

My brain has been tied up with writing for the past two days. I have this essay which I intend to submit to a contest. The deadline is Dec 31st and the essay is not ready yet. I’ve known about the contest since last spring, but it was only in November that I found the right stories and concepts for the essay. I wrote a draft in early December, but yesterday I had one of those moments where I could see how the ideas were right but the presentation was all wrong. The insight was due to some good feedback from an alpha reader. Many thanks are due there.

My original draft told the story. My new draft is wrapping the concepts around scenes of the story. I am attempting to show rather than tell. This proves difficult because the scenes have to be from my own relevant experiences. There is only a limited amount of rearranging I am allowed to do for narrative convenience. The line between creative nonfiction and complete fabrication is narrow. I keep re-writing and re-adjusting as I go; trying to find the right arrangements of words to communicate the ideas. Even as I forge forward toward a complete draft, I am aware that there are errors I am missing. I’m going to have to go back through the whole thing to check for tense drift. I simply can’t focus properly on tense matching while I’m working on structure.

Writing this essay has been hard. I haven’t had a writing experience this intensive since I wrote the story to submit for a DAW anthology in 2007. Part of it is writing to a deadline and really wanting the work to be my best. Another part of the intensity is the subject matter. I really care about what I am trying to say. This effort is forcing me to push deeper and write longer than I usually do. I am learning a lot from the experience. Naturally I hope that the essay is accepted and published as the DAW story was. However, even if it is not I will still have succeeded.