Pure Slush 2014 Year In Stories project. I finally delivered my December story earlier this month--story which, by the way, was due at the end of May. Yep. Two months late. And I wasn't even the last writer to wrap up the cycle.
It's official: Matt Potter, Pure Slush editor, is a saint.
It was hard, wrapping up. I didn't expect it to be that hard. Saying goodbye to characters is always sad; "The End" is a production achievement, sure, but it's also The End--of a creativity moment, of a period of our lives, of our shared story with these characters.
Perhaps if I wrote happy--happier--endings I'd have more feel-good afterwards. From a creative production standpoint I'm pleased when I achieve the perfect ending for a story. In terms of craft it gives me a boost of satisfaction to wrap things up, to bring the story to its crescendo, to let the notes crash and bang and make their statement, and then fade.
But it's still an ending. The story ends. The characters I created are henceforth to go on with their lives without me--unless I've killed them, which I rarely do. Death is much too final.
(Do we begin to see the pattern of attachment issues here?)
In any case, the 2014 Year In Stories project is finished. Well, my part in it is. There are still three volumes to come out; October will probably be published any day now, and there's the looking forward to reading all the other 30 stories--the continuations, the other writers' crescendoes, the aftertaste I'll stay with at the end of these beautiful, heartwrenching stories.
And then there's work. I've published 10 articles so far in the Amigoe Express, and I have assignments to keep me busy for the next few weeks. As a writer of fiction--long, usually--I'm hardly efficient as a journalist; the sections of the paper I write for have a maximum word count of 650 (sometimes 500), and my first drafts usually exceed 2,000 words.
I don't need to pontificate on the amazing craft-honing skills this exercise is helping me develop.
As if that wasn't enough benefit, I also get to talk to people I never would've otherwise. The power of the press: I get to ask questions that I never would've dared to--and get answers. People open up, share their thoughts in informal ways that let me see more of them, their characters, their fears, their feelings of satisfaction and achievement. And that's fantastic fodder for the kind of fiction I write.
So it's a win-win. My new journalism job isn't stealing time from my fiction writing; it's enriching it. It's helping me build characters, create complications, analyze motivations and reactions. And it's paying some of the bills.
Like I said. Win-win.