Not to perpetuate the romantic notion of writerly angst and the joy of squeezing blood from one’s forehead, but for this writer at least, there seems to be two types of stories:  the ones that write themselves, raining down from the heavens onto my keyboard at 60-plus words per minute, and the kind you have to excavate from stone using only your front teeth and fingernails.

Sunday I wrote both.  I kicked pebbles through 200-some words of my Japanese space ninja noir during the wee hours before my writer’s meeting — I’m one of those people — before finally admitting to myself at 6:00 a.m. there was no way in Hogwarts I was going to finish it before our noon meeting.

So I set it aside and wrote a 2,700-word story from scratch, the scratch being this note on my whiteboard:  Right in front of my house there’s a spot that if you stand there, you can see a parallel dimension – discovered it when I was 11 – Peeping Tom – skyline/silhouette of neighborhood shifts into Aztec jumbles.

Writing this story was just the break I needed from the old noir ball and chain.  I felt recharged and accomplished and…well, superheroic.  So I renewed my efforts on the first story later that evening.  Easy-peasy…like force-feeding medicine to a cat.  After shoving, dragging, and bullying the story forward another 200-some words, I hung up my cape and called it a day.

So what’s the deal?  Why are some stories so easy and some so damn hard?  Are these stories inherently different kinds of stories, or am I simply in different kinds of mindsets when I’m writing them?  Or is “easy” simply a wonderful side effect of writing under pressure?

Most importantly, what’s the difference in the final result?  If I bleed over a story longer than another, does that mean that particular story is better?

So I’ve got a lot more questions than I’ve got answers, but this is what I do know:

When it’s easy, usually I haven’t really developed the idea yet, the plot line is more straightforward, and I am writing to find out what the story is.  Mostly these stories are written under tight time constraints, which forces me to make decisions more quickly.

But I also know that the longer I work on something, the richer the back story becomes, the more complicated the plot twists and turns, the more developed the characters become — and not in a bicep-tual way — and the harder it is to write.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter to the reader how painful the process was…just whether the story was good or not.

So how did my five-hour quickie fare under the scrutinizing eyes of the Third Ninjas Omniscient?  Seems it did all right.  Ninja S called it classic sci-fi, and NinJeff, a long-time pal who has been reading my stuff for years now, said it was his favorite of all my stories he’s read.  Wow.  And whew!

What about the other story, you ask?  That remains to be seen.

So I’d love to hear what you guys think.  Is a story better if it was birthed in pain or sneezed out?  Let me know.  In the meantime, I think I feel a contraction coming on.  I better get to work. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “IS IT BETTER WHEN IT HURTS?

  1. Derek Nastase says:

    I concur…sometimes things are easy, and sometimes they are completely forced. It’s kind of like the ideas that knock around in our heads – some of them we love to mull over for hours on end, and others we dread to mention out loud. One thing that can help, though, to avoid losing your front teeth as you gnaw at stone – taking time outs, and using your daydreaming time (if you have any) to try and dream about the difficult story. Perhaps the concerted effort of imagination will lead to an epiphany that will make you want to write more.

    Now, where was I? Oh yes, word count….1527. I lost count a couple of weeks ago, but I am back on!

    • ange6934 says:

      Time outs, yes! And I’ve got the daydreaming part covered. Funny how you mentioned those ideas we dread to say out loud. Glad to know I’m not the only one with those. 😉 Thank you for the ideas. Hopefully, I can daydream this one to the end by this Sunday. That would be nice. 🙂

      And hey, thank you! More words! I need to count mine up too. My list runneth to the floor…!

  2. skyraftwanderer says:

    I don’t know about better, but I do think when you do finish a piece that took some time it is more rewarding.

    Just to use two examples of my own, The City of Moru and Thunderbird. I like both of them, but Moru came together very easily. I had the idea, drafted it and typed it the next day with some minor edits.

    Thunderbird on the other hand went through two drafts. The first draft stalled, the second draft stalled at the same point, and then I pushed through the block and even then I was not quite happy with it. Then I typed the draft up about a week after finishing it and then spent 4 – 5 hours running edits.

    Now I like both pieces but Thunderbird was much more rewarding to write. Sometimes this is not true though. I wrote something called Mado which went through 5 drafts and I am still not sure what it is meant to be.

    Sorry if this comes off as advertising my work. Its honestly not, its just some examples I could provide.

    • ange6934 says:

      That sounds about right. Although its no indication of whether a piece is good or not, if it’s nice and hefty I always feel a little proud. I always worry though that I think something is better than it really is because I spent so much time wrestling with it. It’s also more difficult for me to see where major changes might be needed in the edit process if I’ve worked on it too long.

      I’ve got your blog pulled up in one of my tabs…when I get a chance, I’d like to read those stories you mentioned. 🙂

  3. says:

    It feels weird to me that when I write, the time I spend doing it has no bearing on how good it is. The stories that “fall out of the sky and hit me on the head,” are generally the ones that are more appreciated by others, and I stare at them and wonder how they happened. (My recent story/post on specious “disorder” labels (actually a sort of satire) came so quickly that I think my head actually spun.) But I have noticed that the ones I labor over, hurt more when they don’t work.

    I’ve been wondering about similar questions to the ones you’ve asked here. I don’t have any answers either!

    • ange6934 says:

      Ah, who needs answers when we’ve got camaraderie, right? Maybe the trick is just to write faster?

      Got your story pulled up…can’t wait to read it. 🙂

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