Last night, I sprinted through writing the last ten pages of the story. Today, I read those pages, to find out how it ended. I mean, I knew what happened, but nothing about how it played. This afternoon, I finally turned the introduction from a list of bulleted points into a real opening. I have yet to read the whole draft straight through. That's tomorrow's treat.
I need some beta readers who are not Pagans, and some who do not live in New Jersey.
The characters, being reasonable approximations of New Jerseyans, swear. Probably a lot, by, say, Minnesotan standards. G rated dialogue in New Jersey? It just doesn't happen. I've actually toned the dialogue down, so that it evokes, without faithfully reproducing, the Garden State's wealth of profanity. I need someone far enough away from here to tell me whether what remains still sounds excessive.
The characters, being reasonable approximations of Neo-Pagans, are completely blase about nudity. None of the nudity is described graphically. As in the lives of actual Pagans, the nudity is not the point. It's never, in itself, the thing that makes the story go. Bodies are described only so far as to note that two of the characters are extensively tattooed, and one of the characters has gills--things that are noticeable even when the characters are clothed. I tried leaving the nudity out altogether, but the verisimilitude crashed, so I had to put it back in. My concern is: Is the nudity that remains in the draft distracting to non-Pagan readers, to the point of obscuring the story?
I'm also worried about whether the pacing is spongy, whether the opening is weighed down with expository burdens, the usual.
Still, today I'm happy with it. Today, it's a nice little piece. It has a beginning, a middle, an end, characters who do things, characters who decide things, and some stuff that's at stake. It weighs in just under 28,000 words. Life is sweet in Averyland.
And, now that I'm at a stopping point with it, my characters may stop demanding that I listen to Fountains of Wayne albums on a daily basis. I love the way Fountains of Wayne takes familiar forms and forces those forms to carry content so completely alien to the pop tradition. It's like watching Elizabeth Bishop force sestinas and villanelles to tell linear narratives would be, if Bishop had also tried to be irresistibly danceable. But I think I've listened to "Halley's Waitress," "Stacy's Mom," and "Bright Future in Sales" several hundred times apiece in the month of January.
These days, while I'm in the thick of a writing project, I don't really procrastinate much. No cat-vacuuming here. Which means that, as the end of a draft approaches, the house slides into a state of true squalor. There's probably a surface in here somewhere that doesn't need mopping, but I may have to mop all the other surfaces to figure out which one that is. Today, I finally got around to taking down the Yule tree and putting the ornaments away. Have I mentioned the exemplary patience of my spouse? Exemplary patience. Wow. That, and he keeps laughing at all the right sentences. I'm a lucky girl.