Nearing the Finish Line

So I’m still writing the Creepy Play. This play remains without title for now, though in my earliest notes, it was code-named Southern Ontario Gothic. I feel like I had a good title in that hazy darkness between wake and sleep last night, but it’s gone this morning.

Grimshaw Painting - A Lady In A Garden By Moonlight by John Atkinson Grimshaw

“A Lady In A Garden By Moonlight,” by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1882) Southern Gothic excess, horror, and ruin. This play is a fluffy romp. You know, like most of my work.

Anyway, we’re at the point where Act II shatters into Act III. Everything is The Worst for our characters, and there’s maybe 25% of the script left to go. It’s a Point of No Return: structurally, but also writing-wise.

See, I’ve noticed something with my long-form fiction. There’s always a point where the story ceases to be optional. You sit there, typing, and suddenly you know—just know in the deepest level of your gut—that you’re going to finish today, tomorrow, in the immediate future. There’s no longer a choice about it. The story has to come out.

It’s not a happy feeling, exactly. Nor is it a negative one. It’s just grimly determined. I ran cross-country as a kid, and it reminds me of the 75% mark of a race. You’re exhausted. Your legs hurt. Breath burns up your throat.

But you know the finish line is close, so you keep going. No matter how tired, you couldn’t stop even if you wanted to. The feeling mirrors the one near the start of a long piece—the feeling when you know, instinctively, that the story’s survived the awkward beginning and that tender little shoot isn’t going to wither after all.

I can’t track down an artist to credit, though I really want to. This picture captures the Creepy Play pretty well.

The more I write, the more I notice these instinctive reactions. This story’s going to survive. This one is broken too deep for me to fix. I’m going to finish this play today or tomorrow.

Experience, I guess, just as a runner learns to listen to their own body.

That’s really all for now. I’m tired. My legs hurt. Breath’s burning up the back of my throat as our characters struggle and break and reveal who they really are.

But the finish line is close. I couldn’t stop, even if I wanted to.


What I’m Listening to This Week

The first movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is one of my favourites. It was written for soprano and alto, but there’s a staggeringly beautiful version done solely by strings. After some digging, I found it.

So much of the heartbreak is in the grace notes: it’s the voice cracking, the heart stuttering. And throughout—listen to the bass line, the relentless broken chords. It’s another heartbeat, a pulse driving us inexorably to the end.



Posted on November 28, 2016, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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