It’s psychological, I’m sure of it.
I’m so insecure about this short story that I keep clicking from place to place on my desktop, trying to put off writing the blog post about how I’m procrastinating finishing it.
Am I blocked? No—the darned story was “finished” eighteen months ago. But we all know what “finished” means. It means, “I have written a beginning, a middle, and an end, and fleshed it out. And now I will commence tearing it to shreds and re-seaming until it disintegrates from wear.”
“The Third Day” is too long for the inspirational market, and neither I nor anyone I asked to look at it came up with a way to shorten it. So I decided to rework it for the literary/mainstream market. I went back in to smooth and flesh out the transitions, and in the process I added a thousand words. Then I took three days off and started at the beginning for one last revision—the one in which I polish word and phrasing choices.
And that was when the procrastination began.
I have no confidence in my ability to tell a story to the literary market. I second guess every word choice. (And triple- and quadruple- and quintuple- guess.) Is my tone too colloquial? Or do I sound like I’m trying too hard to break into the literary market? What about references to God? Will they doom my story to rejection in a mainstream/literary market? Is the point of the story too obvious for the literati?
I could not come up with satisfactory answers to these questions, so I decided that the story must need more time to stew. So I set it aside and worked on a retreat presentation. And I blogged. And Googled. And did blog visits. And Facebook. And email. And picture organizing. And (gasp!) flute practicing.
But eventually, I had to own up to the truth. I was procrastinating. So for the last ten days, I have been crawling through the 18-page manuscript, one painful paragraph at a time. I have never (and yes, I do think the italics are warranted) had so much difficulty finishing a manuscript. Have you ever spent half an hour working on one sentence?
This morning I “finished” the last seven pages in an hour…which should tell you that I have yet another painful revision headed my way. But I needed to send it to my critique partners in time for meeting on Sunday, so there you are.
And in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that since I began writing this post, I have nursed, made three phone calls (but hey, they’re very important—I was calling legislators!) and played around on my blog. Clearly, I still have plenty of procrastination left in my bag of tricks.