01 June 2012

What Are Words For?

Not much for me to offer right now. Sorry about that, dear readers. The thing that brought me to the keyboard, to write, is that today was the first day of June, 2012. Hardly anything of significance, but I had this nagging anxiety about letting the first day of the new month pass by with nothing to show for it. My very anemic output in May had something to do with this I am sure. I feel itchy and anxious when I have written too little.

Neil Gaiman said something to the effect that if you only write when you are inspired, you might make a decent poet but you won't succeed as novelist. I think a little of that may be at work on me, even though I have never had any serious claim to being a novelist. 

I'd like to be a novelist. The editing exercises I have indulged in this week have planted some doubts in my head as to whether that is possible for me. I have written a few substantial short stories and a lot of really short stories, even a lot of what I guess might be called flash fiction, too. Or maybe mini-stories? The file I have compiled of the short fiction is approaching 120 pages and over 64,000 words, but it is in no way a novel. Or a novella. Or a truly definable group of long short stories.

But I am not done yet. I have another short story I need to edit, and a connected series of them I need to stitch into one longer version. Then there is the memoirs I have collected, mostly related to my experiences of 2003 with the twins and the NICU, in a separate file. Then I need to start on the slice-of-life stuff I have written...

...then the stuff I don't even know how to classify...

The glaring trait that leaped out at me today, in the midst of reading through my back catalog, is that I don't have a specific genre I most closely identify with. It is the jack-of-all-trades phenomenon rearing its head.  So what to do? I observe, I think, I overhear, I experience. I get ideas and then the chatter starts in my head so I write it down. Sometimes it comes out as fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes a blur of the two.

I don't know what to do with it all. This troubles me. Trying to sort it all out is a full-time job on its own. And I still want to write for the sake of writing! Time, please!

Oh, and another thing. I went through every single one of the 906 previous posts of mine, in the last two-and-a-half days. This was to sort out and identify the pure fiction pieces I wanted to collate. What I noticed is that over the course of time from October 2008 to the present is that my fiction output tapered off dramatically through 2011 to now, dwindling in frequency and in length. I don't know if that is a function of decreasing energy or attention span, but it made me uneasy.

What is becoming of the world if I cannot find more good stories in it?

My challenge is to find the inspiration for new stories and the discipline to write them even when I do not feel like writing. I must work at the writing, so the writing will work for me. So it is written, so it must be.


  1. I cannot believe that you don't find good stories in the world considering that your world has changed drastically in the past year.
    I can understand "same ole', nothin' new" but that's not true for you!!

  2. It's hard to go back and look at what youve written sometimes. Sometimes what made sense then and what makes sense now are completely different. I have a novel piece (that has 2 of the 3 series complete) that I couldn't stop writing - in the car, on the train, everywhere - back in 2008. I totally GOT my characters and heard them having conversations. But after being put out to a dozen agents, I've gotten remarks like great emotion, but not strong enough for a genre. It's very...distressing. I don't like being 'labeled'. It's hard now to move forward (and I know a dozen tries is nothing compared to what most books take to get an agent). But it still makes it even harder to sit down and keep at it.

    I haven't done much more than a couple pages here and there on various things. I always say today will be the day I get back to it.

    May today be the day we both get back in the groove.

  3. Much of what you've written rings true for me as well. Especially the bit about discipline...


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...