Music and a Writing Rule Exception

Last night was just great!

Our oldest granddaughter was over for the night. She’s attending a charter school that focuses on the arts as well as the state requirements. Her instrument of choice is the cello. Last night, she created this little tune and taught my wife how to play it on the cello. Then she taught me a simple chord pattern to go with my wife’s playing. Then we jammed: My wife on my granddaughter’s cello, me on my guitar, and granddaughter on the bodhran. We actually played together pretty good, according to both females.

That was simply awesome. I’ve always played solo on the guitar or autoharp and the only time I ever jammed before was on drums so it was really great being able to jam this way. It’s been so long since I’ve had my guitar out that I hadn’t realized just how much I missed playing it.

Yep, those of you that are wondering…keyboard calluses do not substitute for guitar calluses. I really missed those by the time we put the instruments away.

Well, I just realized that I have to re-do my map for the Pa’adhe tales. Overall, it’s in good shape, but my font size, for one thing, is a little small and hard to read when the map is printed on letter size media. I need to indicate two new places and also indicate two regions. Maybe three regions. Eventually I’m going to have to include territorial/state/country lines. Or something.

Unsurprisingly enough, my laziness is causing me a little extra work with these tales, too. I’ve now got a lexicon, or perhaps more appropriately a dictionary/encyclopedia of 2,460 words related to this series. No, no, no! Not 2,460 individual, defined words, but 2,460 words making up descriptions of people and places. Unfortunately, I added them as I needed them, so while I have them broken into two major groups, People and Places, they’re also in each section in the order I added them. It’s almost time to shuffle them around so they’re alphabetically listed.

Right now, I have the new story Mercenaries (working title) percolating. When I finish a first draft (D1) of a story, I like to let it sit a week without my touching it. Sometimes two weeks, even. Then I will return to it freshened and more aware of mistakes, erratic flow, and other such ilk. If I were to work on it as soon as I finish writing it, I would be too close to the story and the writing to really be objective. Every D1 version of my stories goes through this cooling off period before I begin working on D2.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I just idly lounge around as far as writing goes. No, indeed not. Usually, though admittedly not always, I start on a new short story. There’s nothing like writing a new story to get your mind off the D1. In this case, I now have 1,324 words of the next Pa’adhe short story, tentatively titled Dreamland.

And I found out something interesting.

Virtually always, my rule for D1 is that I write and write and do NOT go back and tweak what I’ve written. That tweaking is deferred until D2 work starts. That doesn’t mean I don’t do any adjusting, since there will be some obvious things I’ll catch while writing as I regularly go back to the start and read what I’ve got so far in order to keep it consistent (one advantage of writing short stories). What I mean is that I do NOT go back and tweak the story or paragraphs or sentences until they’re perfect. D1 is the rough draft. D1 is where, as I tell those that ask me about writing or how to write, “just get it down so you don’t lose it. Worry about grammar and spelling later!” Typically with D1 my goal is I write, I get my words down, I don’t worry about syntax or grammar or spelling or using the same word too many times in a paragraph or…any of that kind of stuff. D1 is meant to be the process of getting the story from my brain onto media to work with. D1 is the storytelling, D2…Dn is the tuning and wordsmithing.

And I just found the exception to the rule.

In the upcoming Dreamland, I have at least one chant, a bit of poetry. For whatever reason, THAT I will tweak until I get it as right as I can. I still just get it down and keep going with the story, but when I return to the story if I’m at a spot where I haven’t yet any real idea where I”m going or what happens next, I zero in on the poetry and work on tweaking that.

I say “at least one chant” because I’ve not yet gotten more than that 1,324 words down. Heck, I’ve not even left the pier and gone sailing yet! Indeed, I’ve only just met the new story’s “guest character”. But that one chant, I just had to tweak it and adjust it and…well, I can’t seem to help it. I love playing with the flow of words and getting the rhythm of the chanting or singing going. I’ve about got it to where I’m going to remove the other working versions of the chant and leave the one. When I return to Dreamland I’ll be resuming the storytelling.

At least until the next chant or song.


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