Work is finally turning around, my friends. I mean real work. Work-work. It’s one of three times a year that constitutes crunch time in the truest meaning of the term. Normally, it’s a black hole sucking abyss that is all consuming. A mad dash where I work as hard and as fast as I can for a week and a half and pray I make it out alive.
This time around is a little different, though. I was driving into work feeling pretty pleased with myself. I ran 7.5 miles this morning and I was working on some prewriting in my head when I remembered what I was actually driving myself too. The black hole does not allow time for things like writing on the side or you know, lunch. I went from super psyched to super pissed in about one second. But then I remembered that I could finally start training. It’s taken two months, but they’ve finally replaced my old position at work with somebody else. All this work that has to be done for this looming deadline? Yeah, that’s her worry now, not mine. OK. OK. She doesn’t know how to do any of it yet … So I get into work, ready to give up all of my free time and start working with her. We’re at it maybe 45 minutes when she says she has a handle on things and I should go do something else and check in later so she can practice. Fine by me.
Black hole averted.
I got back to my office and for the first time in a long time had nothing to do. Looks like I was getting in some writing after all.
I got to expand on a scene I started over the weekend. After placing both my protagonists in mortal peril, the next bullet point on my outline has them recovering with a side of exposition. I realized, though, that if I did it that way, it felt too much like an info dump. Instead, I spent a thousand words just on having one of them wake up and take a shower. It sounds dumb, but I think that after everything they’d been through – the reader included – that all parties involved needed time to breathe. We could build to the exposition later, but for right now, we all needed a hot shower to calm the eff down.
When people talk about the writing process, the concept of pacing will sometimes get brought up. It falls right in there with scenes and sequels, but it’s often a judgement call. You can plot it and plan for it, but sometimes it just makes sense. The funny thing is that I first started to grasp the need for pacing when I started writing comic books.
For years, that was all I wanted to do. I’d do anything to break into the comics industry. I remember showing my first full length script to a friend and a professional in the biz and after padding my ego, the first thing he said was that it needed at least one splash page. I thought those were just for the artists to show off or something, but he explained that no, it allows the story to breathe. Yes, they’re usually big, dramatic moments, but it’s really just a place to slow everything down for a minute and let the reader take it all in. They’re like a visual pause.
I’ve taken that advice to heart. It’s a little different to have a splash page in a novel. At this point, they usually fall under the wow category instead of the reflection one, but it was thinking about stories visually that helped me wrap my burgeoning writing brain around the concept of pacing in general. You can’t always be rush-rush-rush, hell, even Sonic stopped and had a chili dog every once in a while.
Over the weekend, my wife and I sat through an all day intensive baby basics course at the hospital. We got to meet some personnel and see what the rooms look like for the big day in a couple of months. It helped alleviate a lot of worry and put some more excitement in the hype tank. It’s not that I wasn’t looking forward to them before, but now I’m really excited about it! We also sorted through some baby clothes people had loaned us.
We have a lot. And that’s just for the boy.
And when we were at the hospital, there was one part of the class that had all of these physical activity stations. Most of which were places to practice hand and hip massages for when she’s in labor and has nothing to do but sit and wait through the pain. She got to relax for a change and I pushed and pulled on stuff I didn’t know could go those directions but I guess they helped reduce pressure somewhere. Go figure.
Oh and I got to try one of these on. She said she was getting tired so I told her I’d carry the babies for a while.