El Frío – The Process

El Frío is story number twenty in the #52ShortStories challenge.

**SPOILERS BELOW. If you have not read the story and want to be (hopefully) surprised, come back to this when you’re done.**

Sometimes a topic yells at you so loudly that to ignore it would be tantamount to leaving an injured pedestrian on the side of the road.

You’re there.

To ignore it feels utterly wrong.

Do something about it.

That’s what happened with my need to write something set in Antarctica. In the December issue of Smithsonian Magazine, Kim Stanley Robinson wrote an article regarding Robert Scott’s daring expedition to the South Pole in 1911. On top of that, I had seen a notice earlier that month regarding an exhibit at a local museum showing unbelievable photographs and documentation of Ernest Shackleton’s near-catastrophic voyage in 1914. So after reading the article and visiting the museum, I was pretty hyped up on investigating every little bit of history regarding that barren land to the south.

I discovered that in 1819, a Spanish ship named San Telmo was blown off course on the way to Peru and its splintered remains were discovered on Livingston Island, possibly making any one of its 644 sailors the first known people to set foot on what’s considered Antarctica.

So, I figured the Captain ought to be the one to do it. From there, I ran with the intriguing setting of a very real Blood Falls and how it might be interpreted by a likely-devout Catholic who’s on the brink of death.

Of course, I had to throw in a sci-fi twist. You guys know by now, that’s just how I roll most of the time.

In regards to the writing process itself, I’m trying to get out of this nasty, occasional habit of rewriting the same paragraph over and over early on, only to scramble on Sunday morning to finish the damn story. It doesn’t always happen, but it seems to more often than not. It’s good to course correct when the boat’s heading off-kilter (hopefully before it ends up crashing into an iceberg…)

You’re probably also seeing a pattern whereby, sometimes, I’m barely using the scratch file at all. I’m just diving into the manuscript and working it out from there. It seems to depend on the story and how confident I’m feeling.

Hope you enjoyed the tale and a bit of history!

Here’s the general scratch file:

And the daily journal entries:

-Phillip

5 thoughts on “El Frío – The Process”

  1. I’ve done that rewriting-the-same-paragraph thing over and over again too. It’s rarely productive unless it’s near my last draft. I try not to do it early on, because oftentimes I end up ditching it completely and now I’ve wasted all that time!

    1. I’ve come to the realization that I’m not really a writer. I’m a re-writer. So, have to let myself tweak paragraphs I’ve recently written – but in a controlled way. Tried not touching what I’ve written at all, just adding notes. Doesn’t work. I lose interest in what I’m writing. If I go too far the other way I never move forward, constantly polishing a small, small point in the story. I’ve found though, that if I allow myself 5 minutes (timeboxed) before every writing sprint I do (usually 20 mins) to ‘edit’ what I’ve previously written then all the voices in my head seem happy (or at least, happier). Might waste some time, but at least it’s just some, and hopefully I gain more than I lose. Think this sort of thing is fairly common, but it took me a while to find what works for me. I’m also sure I’ll slip and have to find new ways to cheat my subconscious in the future!

      1. “I’m also sure I’ll slip and have to find new ways to cheat my subconscious in the future!”

        There’s no way around it, it seems… :-/

  2. Love the mid point twist. Placed at just the right point. Reminded me a bit of Doctor Who. Possibly because I just watched the Xmas special the other day which has many similar elements, but mainly because the revelations and story points were based around dialogue. Come to think of it, this was quite a dialogue heavy story (admittedly some of it internalised), which seemed different for you. In a good way. Anyway, rambling. Nicely done.

    1. Thanks, mate! Funny you mention Dr. Who. I’ve got so much catching up to do with that show (and TV in general)… Just to give you an idea, I haven’t seen ANY episodes outside of the classics (Tom Baker-era). Bad geek, I know… I’ll go sit in a corner and play with my old toy AT-AT until I’ve learned my lesson.

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