Necessity is the mother of invention

I’ve had at least two months to prepare a piece of flash fiction for the Fictlicious show next Tuesday, ample time which I’ve squandered in amazingly slothful fashion. The theme is “bad,” a topic so vastly open as to be a little bit paralyzing. Fortunately I settled on an idea a few weeks ago that I let ferment in my head a bit. I put together a loose outline, as I am a writer who likes to have his stories thought out in advance (it makes the white space on an empty .doc file less intimidating). I even opened up a file, typed in a title placeholder (working title was Barff) and the footer with Trumpeter – <page number>, before ultimately deciding last weekend that I just wasn’t too interested in the idea. Instead, I’m writing something completely different, with no outline whatsoever. Just a basic idea for a situation, some general thoughts on theme, very loosely defined characters and that’s it. Oh, and I’m trying the first person plural gimmick, which is second only to second person in my list of most hated POVs.

This is not how I work.

The only saving grace is that I have a deadline. On Tuesday, I will stand in front of several dozen people and read it aloud, and it is my experience that nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a hard deadline. I didn’t write much after college, and part of that is probably because I didn’t have a due date for my work. When I started again, I managed a little more discipline, but a regular workshop does its part in keeping the output churning. I suppose this will answer for me how I work without an outline, since this is the first time since college that I’ve tried it. I’ll find out by Tuesday.

In the meantime, here’s my favorite line I’ve written today: We felt like we were watching a surgeon smoking a cigarette, a supermodel scarfing down a chili dog.

It’ll probably get cut by Tuesday, because that’s what happens when I don’t have an outline.

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