Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Integrity check

I had an encouraging lunch yesterday with an old friend, my partner in 1789 Legacy, and the person who got me writing again last year.  (All the same person.)  During our meal we talked about quite a few things but the biggest boost for me came behind the scenes.  We talked about process and inspiration a bit and I credited my 2 hours/day on the train for my success to date.  She said, "It's more than the time.  You put the whole idea together and you must type very fast to get it all down."

I took it as a compliment not realizing that it was at work in my subconscious.  As I drifted off to sleep last night I had an epiphany.  Just because I'm not a "pro" doesn't mean that I can't have my own unique way of getting a story out.  I keep trying to find a system out there that works for me but what I should really be doing is writing and then shoring up the weak spots.  I've been stuck on "Falling Star" for weeks now, frustrated that I'm not writing pages because I'm trying to "break" the story.  I envisioned it whole.  I wrote it in a couple of days.  Now I know what's missing.   I need to write it again filling in the gaps.  Then I'll see what's missing again.

Sure, that may seem like brute force, but pages are how I build.  Not bullet points.  And I've gotten much, much better at cutting out darlings.  My most recent short story lost 40% of its initial word count for the 2nd draft and is much, much better for it.  I needed to write the rest to know who it was about.

A reader asked me this question:  "How can you tell if a politician has integrity?"  I turned to Washington for the answer.  Washington Orville Hampton, that is.

November 3, 1967.  Missoula, MT

I inspected Bullock's ranch today and have to say, it is a marvelous spread of just under a thousand acres.  He has quite a collection of characters working it too.  We played Canasta in the bunkhouse at the end of the night and I was regaled with stories that even my dearest friend Bunyan wouldn't believe.

Lest you get the wrong idea, they were not a group of liars.  Indeed, there were learned men about as well discussing science and philosophy and politics.  Having recently spent time with the Governor I was quite interested in their discussion about political ethics and inquired as to how one could tell if a politician was honest.

"It's easy." said Brandt.  "You rap them upside the head."  We chuckled but he pressed on.  "I'm serious.  You hit them a solid whump and listen to the sound it makes.  If it rings hollow than you know they're alright.  If it sounds solid then you know they're full of bull-"

Olaf cut him off.  "You're crazy.  Empty sounding is good?"

"Just like a watermelon." said Joshua.  "I should have thought of that."

And so should I.  How often have we heard Father Algernon say that watermelons are the very definition of integrity?

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