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Resurrecting The Gray Summer

Writers can attest that there’s that one project they’re working on that kind of rises above the rest. Sure, all of your stories are special in some sort of what. But this one, well, this one just catches you in a certain way.

This is what The Gray Summer is to me.

Because I erased the original post from 2010, here’s a brief synopsis of the story. It follows the lives of a dozen people working at fictitious Rock Hill Amusement Park through the summer of 1995. Unlike everything else I have written, the story is laid out piece by piece, using articles diary entries and letters to home, the earmarks of the epistilory novel. For those scoring at home, the best examples of this format are Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stephen King’s Carrie and, more recently, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Now, in the original history, the plan was to take a page from old friend Eddy Webb, who had, a few years back, put together the Whitechapel Project in a blog format, bringing the story together piece by piece. In 2010, I was all set to do the same thing, setting up The Gray Summer subdomain, armed with enough material for about a month, and I was ready to go.

Or so I thought.

In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t do it that way, as I have recently found out that some of the original material was fraught with factual errors. For example, did you know that in 1995, Ball State University finished Spring Semester a week before Butler University did? I didn’t until this week. The lack of prior research could have been pretty embarrassing if I hadn’t caught it.

The other thing was trying to write the same way you would a regular story. Because of all the different points of view, it’s more like writing 12 separate stories. I kept running into an issue where I wasn’t spending enough time on a character, almost making it as if there was no reason to include them in the first place.

I was prompted to get a lot more organized, making the biggest change by pulling the story apart, separating it by character, with the goal of putting the whole story back together in the end. I’ve found that to be much more productive.

My biggest problem in delaying was, well, me. That tends to happen when you get hit with an chronic case of writer’s block.

So, here I am again. I’ve probably written more for The Gray Summer in a week than I have in years.

And this time, I’m not going to do something dumb, like post up a publishing date. I’ll wait till it’s actually done.

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