Instead of pestering me to feed it, though, it nagged at me that I still needed an ending. And it warned me that I really needed to start wrapping things up if I had any hope of finishing by the deadline. So I lay in bed, only three-quarters awake, pondering.
At times like this, I find that the answer is already there, in what I’ve previously laid down. I’m basically asking my characters, "OK, y’all got me into this mess. What are you gonna do next?"
Sometimes they need a little prodding, but they’ll give it up eventually. And they did this time, too. A thought for the ending occurred to me sometime between waking up and finishing my morning ablutions. I had to chuck a planned sequence I thought I needed, but that was fine with me. In fact, I think the story works better without that sequence. And it wrapped things up in relatively short order.
I banged out another 2K words or so, and finished a first draft of "The Hills" at around 11:30. It clocked in at 4200 words. Later in the day, I did a quick read-through and update, bringing the final total to 4300. I figure I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 or 7 1/2 hours actually writing.
And I was done! It felt great to have done some actual drafting, and to have another story under my belt. On the other hand, I was (and remain) a bit leery about how easy it had all seemed. Either I’m getting better at this writing thing, or the story actually kinda sucks. As always, time will tell.
Anyway, with the story done, I had a bit of free time. I did lunch at Shelly Cafe with Jordan, Steve Savile, Tim Powers, Robert Sawyer and his wife Carolyn, and maybe one or two others whose names escape me at the moment. Shelly’s is a great little greasy spoon across the street from the Roosevelt, a popular hangout for us writer types, being, as we are, both cheapskates and inordinately fond of fried foods.
OK, maybe that’s just me.
The parental units flew in later that afternoon. The wife picked them up from the airport, and I was able to meet them when they arrived at the hotel. I basically had time to say hello and get them checked into their room. Then I had to run. I still had to get back to Author Services and have my story printed out in time for the deadline.
Capping off the evening was a barbecue at the Roosevelt, a place to meet many of the contest judges and the illustrators, who had spent the week busy with their own workshop. It was actually more of a buffet than a barbecue, held on a lovely patio area near the pool. And the hamburgers they served there were friggin’ gigantic. I’m talking huge. I’m talking half-pound (at least) patties sandwiched between buns too large for your mouth unless you unhinged your jaw first. I was famished by that time, so I gobbled mine down in short order, even though I probably shouldn’t have. OK, I definitely shouldn’t have, but being a writer is damned hard work, you know?
Chatted with lots of nice people at the barbecue, including Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, whom I had met the month previous at a con in Omaha, and who were kind enough to remember me.
But Tim and K.D. weren’t done with us yet. On the agenda for the next day was the workshopping of three more or less randomly picked 24-hour stories. The three lucky winners for dissection were distributed at the barbecue. It was our cue to get back to work. So off I went to read, but I got awfully sleepy awfully fast. I made it through one and a half stories before giving up and hitting the lights.
Next installment: The Marathon Day, and Jerry Pournelle harshes our buzz.