And I might even have had a blog post last night about short stories, and how long it takes to write one, if we hadn’t been in the part of northern New England that had freezing cold and high winds all day yesterday, and had the power go out for nearly five hours yesterday night.
Which wouldn’t have been bad — only annoying, and boring, and putting a serious delay in all the work I had in hand for the evening — if we didn’t also heat the house with electricity. We toughed it out by candlelight for the first couple of hours, until our laptops ran out of juice; then we gave up and huddled under the down comforter and all the blankets until the power came back.
Then we spent today playing catch-up, and putting the finishing touches on the short story we were working on when the power went out. This is a short story that either took us a couple of weeks to write, or took us about nine years. We would periodically pull it out, and work on it some, and throw out bits and put in more bits, and come up against a brick wall and put it away again . . . and this went on, as I’ve said, for years.†
Then about a week ago, revelation hit and the wall broke and we had a finished draft. The rest of the work was revision, seven drafts of it. (I figure I’m in good company; the humorist James Thurber once claimed that most of his seemingly effortless casual pieces for The New Yorker went through at least six drafts before submission.) Next comes sending the story out on a blind date with an editor somewhere, with all the concomitant angst and uncertainty.
Persistence. Persistence is key.
†We didn’t have the external spur of an anthology we’d promised the story to, and we’re not primarily short story writers anyhow; otherwise, the process might not have taken so long. A good part of the final, successful effort involved throwing out all of the short story’s misguided attempts to turn into a novel.