Drudgery for a While

I made this sketch to illustrate one of my short stories, but it reminds me of James Leverette in The Intangibles. (Monte Dutton sketch)
I made this sketch to illustrate one of my short stories, but it reminds me of James Leverette in The Intangibles. (Monte Dutton sketch)

I’m between stories right now. I just spent a couple weeks or so on a short story, “The Bright Lights Burn,” that wound up being about 16,000 words. It takes up the story of Riley Mansfield, the likable rogue who was the main character in my first novel, The Audacity of Dope, six and a half years after the events of the novel.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

It will likely be a while before I undertake another project as ambitious as “The Bright Lights Burn.” I’ve got to go back and work on a second draft of my crime-novel manuscript, Forgive Us Our Trespasses*. I’ve got to get my taxes done. Every year I say I’m going to get them done early, and every year, I don’t. Such is human nature, or at least the nature of one human.

For some reason, it’s getting harder and harder to limit the short stories. When I started writing them, it was easy to confine them to, oh, 5,000-6,000 words. Now I get an idea and figure it will take a couple installments, and then I start writing and turn into the Energizer Bunny. New plot twists occur to me. The next thing I know, I’m printing out sixty pages.

The short stories started out as extensions of my songs. A song, of course, has a simple plot, but my early short stories just took the basic notion of one of the songs, and I concocted a more detailed story, one that often wound up having little in common with the song.

Another new hobby, one that conveniently happened along at the same time as the short stories, was doing sketches with pastel pencils. The early stories were illustrated by stock photos. Now I draw something. Some work better than others. This one, for instance, was written to illustrate the first episode of “The Bright Lights Burn,” and I was fairly pleased with it.

The hills of eastern Kentucky, near Hyden. (Monte Dutton sketch)
The hills of eastern Kentucky, near Hyden. (Monte Dutton sketch)

This one, kind of a symbolic one, was for one of the episodes, “Melissa, Under Water,” and, since the reference was to a dream by Riley’s wife, Melissa, I guess it looks suitably nightmarish, but I wasn’t pleased with it.

Mrs. Mansfield's dream. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Mrs. Mansfield’s dream. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Any writing that’s any good requires discipline, but I find more freedom in short stories. I can take an idea and run with it, then, when all the episodes are finished, go back and try to make the tale more cohesive.

Abel Mondell was a character in a short story, one that was based on a song I wrote. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Abel Mondell was a character in a short story, one that was based on a song I wrote. (Monte Dutton sketch)

A novel is quite an exercise in organization. The crime manuscript is my fourth. My third, Crazy of Natural Causes*, is, well, available to be published. At about the turn of the calendar, I finished a fourth draft, and, now, I think it’s ready, or at least ready enough to start collaborating with an editor and a publisher.

I’m afraid that writing is so much fun, so rewarding, so challenging, so exhilarating, that it’s actually easier to keep writing than it is to do the work required to get it published.

So I’m going to do more of that work in the coming weeks. I find it as tedious as the taxes, but it’s also just as necessary.

Those two novels are going to work out better with someone to read them.

*When they get published, they get italics.

I’ve written many books, both fiction and non, that you can buy here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

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