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the short story blahs…

July 17, 2007





FICTION WRITING IS WHAT I THOUGHT I wanted to do when i grew up. But, college came, and my dreams of writing semi-biographical novels went under with the tide, and I started eating, sleeping, breathing poetry. I blame my professors. Now, senior year of college, i find myself back in the driver’s seat of short-stories. And they seem to be crashing and burning. I know that short story is kind of the way in which we live our lives–anecdotes, flashbacks, an afternoon filled to the brim with associations and memories melds into a life lesson or tacit metaphor…
It’s just that I don’t know how! I am becoming used to the peculiar agony of revising poems…revisiting every word a thousand times, losing sleep over the inclusion or exclusion of a certain image…did i close the door well enough? Does the reader get it? Did i bang him/her over the head with it? Does it even make sense?
This, I understand. Short story? Like, characters and dialog and description and stuff!? Like WHOLE SENTENCES? Parameters…rules…pagessssss? Somewhere along the line in the last five years, I have forgotten what it is to write a short story. So, I end up doing what I’m doing now– pacing around, sighing, picking the cat hairs off my shirt and pants (he likes to help me write…by getting between me and the keyboard…), staring at the monitor, thinking that I know thousands of beginnings to stories…but nothing i can use. If I was any way-cooler writer from the past, I would be smoking a pack of cigarettes and cracking open a bottle of brandy to open the floodgates. But, since my writing process seems to take so long, it’s probably better if I don’t shave any years off my life just yet.

More from the hopelessly stumped short story writer soon… Se la vie.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 18, 2007 4:12 am

    fear not lovey! i went through the same things with short stories in creative writing class…it seemed like and impossibly hard transition to make…i found out though that writing short stories actually helped me break the mold in my poetry….like i found out htat i was in a poetry rut and i was writing essentially the same damn poem over and over and over from the same vantage point and for some reason taking a break to write short stories made me see my poetry differently….i’d try finding a character….someone you see all the time but dont’ know much about and give them a story and then it becomes somehow wonderful like you begin to appreciate the depth of a story that poetry doesn’t always allow…and rather than constraining rules they seem more free

    just write and write and work out the kinks later
    you’ll end up loving it i promise
    also i’m sure your story will be the best in the class
    and then before you know it you’ll be writing poetry for emerson in the fall again 🙂

    i miss you oodles and i hope this didn’t sound like a bossy lecture…it’s so funny though how everything you write about i can totally relate to the the same experience…i think you’re my cosmic soul twin 🙂
    muah
    -Amanda

  2. Charles R. Rutledge permalink
    July 18, 2007 9:21 am

    Whenever I’m having trouble getting a short story started, I usually go and read some favorite shorts. Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants or The End of Something or some such. Puts me in the right frame of mind.
    Also, James Hall, a poet and novelist says he thinks of writing novels as “Writing poetry from margin to margin instead of down the middle of the page.”
    Just some thoughts. Luck with the work.

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