“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler
Writing is something that many people do now. Blogs, obviously, and I’ve obviously been infected by that. But also fiction writing and poetry. With (literally) tons of books written on the subject of helping even the those unfamiliar with pencils to write fiction and get it published! lots of people try their hand, fail miserably and try to get published. The greatest obstacle faced by these authors is their own inability to rate their fiction. Or anyone else’s. This is my failing as well.
I like to write…not so much here actually, because, really, who cares? Most of what I would write here is stuff I’d be perfectly comfortable talking about with my friends. And since they are the only ones who actually likely to read this, I could just talk to them in person. But I’m not very good at steering conversations, so whatever I don’t say in person, I can say here. Anyway. Fiction writing: I do enjoy. Unlike the authors who dream of success I don’t. Nor do I try poetry. Fortunately I had to practice writing poems for a class, and have so discovered, it is not, nor will it ever be, my forte. (Convoluted sentences with too many adverbs, maybe.)
Telling stories. That, in my opinion is how one can recognize someone else who could write. Well ususally, but right now, I’m not look for exceptions. My youngest brother could be an absolute genious writer. Make lots of money, even, and be on talk shows. He can be very charming, and oh! can he tell a story. When he was little and a friend didn’t come to class, he’d tell us it was because the kid’s grandfather’s plane had gone down in the Atlantic Ocean, and the whole family was dead. (Disregarding that the kid’s older sister was in my class and I’d seen her that day–he’d say it was because she hadn’t gone.) His talent: the plot, of course, but also the concrete details that really make a story convincing. He’s also tends to be morbid, benefitting both the boy in him, and the storyteller. My middle brother is also good at telling stories when he chooses to. Sometimes just to mess with me when I ask him a question, and he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll just make up something. Again, concrete details and absolute confidence. I believe him every time.
Me? As you may have guessed from the end of that last paragraph, I’m rather credulous. Also, I miss some great opportunities for telling stories, because when they come, they fly right by me. Can’t even hear the ‘whoosh’ as they hurdle overhead.
And I’m the one who really wants to tell the stories. The one who has almost literally spent my entire conscious life reading everything I can get my hands on. The one who used to take the characters from those books and making up my own stories from them as I went to sleep at night. (In middle school…before Harry Potter…I was so relieved when I discovered fan fiction. I wasn’t crazy after all! Or at least wasn’t crazy alone.)
So I’ve found a few stories that I did in the years between when it never occurred to me to write (or not) and when I decided I couldn’t write. There’s one from about sixth-grade, which for it’s grade level, has a good, tight plot; interesting, complex characters; and a happy ending. And an epilogue for Mice and Menfor a 9th grade English assignment. It’s interesting, and I think, not too bad.
Then, I think it was my senior year in high school, maybe junior, I decided I could write. (As differentiated from “just writing when I felt like it”) I wrote a 7 (?) page story based on the usualassignment to imitate the “Walter Mitty” story. I thougt mine very clever. Then we had an assignment to write a traditional gothic story–think Poe. I was very pleased with both of these attempts and they both had several drafts. I was so impressed with myself, I made two of my favorite teachers read them several times each.
Recently I have found them again. You could say the gothic one was Poe-esque, only it’d be a horrible insult to Poe. Very sophomoric…very stereotypically attempt, in fact, in imitating Poe, with absolutely no value in it whatsoever as I can recall. Maybe there’s something good about it, but even if I knew where it was, I’m not sure I could bring myself to actually read it again. As for the first “Secret Life” it did exactly what it was supposed to do. There were even some interesting bits of characterization and description. But most of it was just…blah. Really nothing, no substance (although better than the gothic, which was nothing but a desperate, desperate pasting of heavy words onto emptiness to imitate substance) and a really jerky ending. As in, it ended. Stupidly.
I took the writing class in community college. Wrote several bad poems. Finished one, maybe two, stories. And started two ridiculous attempts at plays. One of the stories I took to a novel writing group I went to once a week, and it, apparently, was not a total failure. These people had very good judgment, good writers themselves, and I trusted it. I’d been with the group for two years before they saw this story, and they liked it. We circled some problems with tense and such near the end, but they thought it good.
I’d actually been attending that group because when I was so enthused with my writing in high school, I took on the greatest attempt at all for the new writer armed with too many writing books. I tried to write a novel. I wrote maybe 100 pages total, about thirty perhaps usable…if I’d actually decided to try to continue it. Whenever I brought anything to the meetings, I read quietly, quickly, and immediately apologized for the quality. Then they’d tell me it was good, and to stop apologizing because I was better than I thought I was. Am.
Then, after that group, was when I realized how bad those two I wrote in late high school were, and I gave up for awhile entirely…for instance the novel has been abandoned. I tried NaNoWriMo last year, and kind of liked that attempt, as I didn’t dislike the ‘novel’ I’d been working on before, or the sixth-grade story, or the Steinbeck epilogue. But apparently…I tend to write extreme characters. Actually in many ways they reflect how I think, and then I show them to other people, who say they are weird, and need serious help. Which may be a good argument against having this blog. But anyway, I took that to mean, I can’t do characterizations, can’t write, etc, etc. Well, I thought I could write, but not for actual people to read, besides me.
Then I joined a website with a very supportive and kind (and genuine) group, that really welcomed me. For a fandom that I’ve never really been strongly involved in, and I was inspired to write something that I could post and share there, as thanks. So I’ve started working on something. And actually working on it. Planning ahead, revising, actual working that I’ve never really attempted with my writing before.
I’m really enjoying it. It’s not the best. And (self-helpness-type happy ending ahead) it’s not as bad as lots of other stories that I can find on the internet. Or even published (think Harlequin). Well, maybe nearly as good as that. But it doesn’t matter. In this case, I know that the readers where I post it will either like it and say so, or they might not say anything because they don’t so much. So long as I don’t expect to be the next J.K. Rowling (who I’m not sure I’d want to be anyway) it’s all good.