So I started writing in my genre the other day. I sat down in my squishy chair with a cup of sweetened green tea and my fluffy Avengers blanket like always. I made sure my laptop was charging, and my “Study” playlist was drifting gently on the air. I opened Word and took a deep breath.
Now I am on draft 20 and have come to the conclusion that I have absolutely no idea what the fluff I am doing.
I write for a living. Word counts are something I often ignore because they are often set at such a level that I am constantly trying to reach them. I put in filler passages, long descriptions, and give enough detail to barely flesh out the word count required. I am used to pushing 1000, 1500, even 2000 words in a single sitting. I have gotten so accustomed to this limit that I have forgotten the beauty of brevity. And it is going to screw me over.
I set a 200 word limit for myself, seeing as true microfiction can be written in between 100 and 250 words. I knew 100 would not be possible right away for a novice like myself, but twice that, 200, seemed more than reasonable. I thought through what was going to have to happen. A storyline, characters, setting, and conflict would have to be set up and completed in less than a quarter of a printed page. Okay, that just means I have to contain myself and not get wordy. Easy enough. But as I started to write, I began to realize just what I had gotten myself into. I am not a brief person, and that is all this genre is.
I have been fighting with this for a while now. I sit in front of my laptop, I pace the length of my room, I research and annotate examples, I read more microfiction than any truly sane person would ever consider reading in an afternoon. I have developed characters, plot lines, settings, and conflicts. I have fought with the voices in my head until we are all hoarse. Needless to say, I’m not sure how this is going.
One thing I will say, however, is that every time I fall flat on my face, every time I end up yelling at my computer or throwing a pillow across the room, every time I delete my work I have learned something new about myself.
I am not a patient person when it comes to my own learning. I will sit with the students I tutor for hours upon hours, going over the same concept until they finally have that lightbulb moment. But when it comes to myself, I better get it the first time every time. NO EXCEPTIONS. This approach worked in high school, when the subjects were almost playfully easy and I could succeed on my first try every time without thinking twice about it. College is proving to be a very different story. I often find myself doubting my abilities, especially in this project. I can hear that little voice in my head ordering me to get it together and work harder. This is your fourth try. Why haven’t you gotten it yet? Because of this project, I have had to look at myself not a failure or a constant problem, but as a student. I am more understanding with my math students than I am with myself. Why is that, I asked myself. Why won’t I just forgive me and treat me like the student I am? I realized that I had to have patience with myself, and that forgiving myself for my shortcomings is part of the learning process.
Now that I have done that, I find that I am able to think more clearly. I find that my ideas are forming more readily and I have more confidence in what I am doing. I have given myself permission to fail, so long as I use it as a foundation for growing toward success.
So why the fluff am I doing this? Originally, it was for the grade. Now, I am doing this for myself and for the students I hope to someday teach. After all, how can I understand their struggles if I do not struggle myself?