I have some interesting friends. One of them posted a silly horoscope to her Facebook page. I responded by writing something totally off the cuff. She challenged me to write the whole story to go with that sentence.
Immediately, work got crazy. I was traveling every week, sometimes three to four days out of that work week. In so doing, I figured out where the nearest Panera was to my travels.
I printed out the horoscope and pasted it into this journal I was going to use for the collection of quotes from the books I read. (I have abandoned that idea in favor of post-its because I don't want to stop, copy a quote, and read on. It breaks the rhythm. I have the post-its handy for ripping off a sheet and slapping it into the book where it marks the lines I liked.) When I had time to kill, Panera was great. I could get lunch and work on the story and they didn't mind. Around me, people were hooked up to the internet, doing whatever they needed to. I had my journal and my gel pens and I wrote and wrote and wrote.
I was very proud of myself when, after a couple weeks of this, I'd reached paged 23.
No, the journal pages are not numbered. I have to do that myself, but that simple task delivered a great feeling of accomplishment. How far in advance should I number them? Was 30 enough? No. Not even close. 50? I might be half-way through. I'm not sure. I settled on 100.
I wrote in various fragments of time; at the doctor's office at the end of May; at the office when burning CDs or processing data tied up my computer for long stretches. May was cold and damp and I felt the words struggle to flow through my pen onto the pages. Some days, I could barely manage a page. Other days, three and four pages of text seemed to sprint onto the lines. I went through one pack of gel pens and had to buy another.
And then life caught up and all these things I needed/wanted to do called to me and the journal was set aside for a time. I knew exactly how the story would end. I knew the characters. I knew, mostly, the dialog. It was getting it committed to the pages of the journal. I wasn't feeling inspired.
Then, last Saturday, a glorious day of moderate temperatures and warm sunshine, I got the deck into sitting mode.
All the plants are planted, although I need another marigold for one which didn't make it. The statuary is out. There is a table for a drink and supplies, and there is the comfort of flowers.
The geraniums, as I've said, are rather spindly and will be cut back in the next week. This space is inviting now. I don't feel like it needs more than the usual deadheading of flowers. I can sit out here and work on whatever project I have in front of me, be it a book, a cross-stitch, or a story. Of course, my flow gets interrupted by "Hamlet! Deck! Now!" He was so good but has since regressed, although he comes when I call. He's timid, as the girls are, so I probably could let him loose while I finished a chapter or a line of stitching, but I worry and that not good for concentration.
Anyway, Sunday, finally, after two months of off and on writing, I could write "The End".
It's 82 pages in the journal which might type up to 40 pages on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. I changed verb tenses in the last quarter of the story, preferring the ending tenses to the beginning. It made more sense. I'm probably the worst editor of my stuff. I agonize over punctuation placement and whether this word is exactly what I want to use. I didn't do much editing of the raw product but it was hard, when I had to go backwards a few pages to remember where the story was and where it needed to go. Oh gee. That's not the right wording there, and out comes the editor in me.
The next step is to type this up so my friend can read it. After that, I have no idea what I'll do with this, other than mark something complete and move on to the next idea. She mentioned, while driving in the rain one day, seeing a book, pages flapping in the wind, in the median of the road she was on. Did someone leave it on the top of their car and drive off? Or did they heave it out the window during a rainstorm, on purpose? If so, why would you do that to a book? She never specifies the size of the book. So many ideas.
This is a great victory for me. I got the deck set up for a summer of relaxation AND I finished something I'd started. On to the next project!