On Short Stories

I do not think like a short story writer. I’ve learned that this semester. I think like a novelist. I want to write short stories, because they don’t take as much time and they are less complex, but I am not a short story thinker. My stories are complex and have subplots within subplots within the plot. I may think I want this or that story to be short, or even novella length, but when I lay out the idea, it is always way too big for a small space, and sometimes, it is even too big for a large space.

This semester has been about thinking like a short story writer. It has been about changing my thinking to write stories that are character driven and not plot driven, but my stories are never really about characters. My stories are always about plot. I like to take a familiar idea, like time travel, and then turn it upside down and see what falls out.

But now, I’m writing short stories, and I find that I like the satisfaction of that. I like having a story finished and knowing that with only a few tweaks, it might actually be ready to submit for publication at some point. Still, in order to write short stories, I have to think like a short story writer, which means that I have to stop thinking about plot and let the characters decide the story. It is a kind of letting go; letting go of control, letting go of my ideas, letting go of me. It isn’t easy to reinvent my writing wheel, but I feel like it will be worth it.

Someday.

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Writing and Other Disasters

I am taking a creative writing class this semester. It was supposed to inspire me, to make me want to write every day, to encourage me to really dig in to that novel I’ve been planning for two years.

I am not enjoying it.

My teacher is nice enough, although the phrase “overwhelmed with extra assignments that were not on the syllabus” comes to mind every time I think of her. My classmates are great, and we’ve had some excellent discussions about writing.

I am NOT enjoying it.

The problem is simple. I feel stifled. I feel limited. I feel like I can’t write what I want, but that I have to write what my teacher wants to hear. I have to write what it takes to make the grade.

I AM NOT enjoying it.

If I were honest with my teacher, and told her that I feel this way, she would reassure me that I needed to write what I enjoy, because I am at the place in my life where I know what kind of writer I am, and that is what I should write. But I feel like I am not free to write the stories and characters that I truly want to create.

For instance, I want to write time travel. I love time travel stories. I want to write stories about different types of time travel. Maybe one story uses a time machine of some sort, maybe the other is just an open portal in a random location. I want to write stories about fantastical places that only exist in my imagination. Stories that happen on other planets, or in a different dimension.

My first story of the semester was a time travel story. And my teacher tried to get me to take the time travel aspect out of it. That doesn’t exactly sound like someone who wants me to write the kind of stories I want to write, does it?

So, for my second story, I wrote something realistic, based on a story that happened to my grandmother when she was a child. And, honestly, I hate it. I love my grandmother’s stories, but I hate the story that I’ve written based on it. I feel boxed in, trapped by unspoken restrictions, and it is making me wish I’d never signed up for this class. I don’t like feeling that way. I want to take as much from this class as I can, but right now, I don’t even enjoy walking in the door.

This blog post is a long, roundabout way of saying that I have writer’s block at the worst possible time in the semester, and I completely blame myself for thinking a creative writing class would help to stir up my creativity. Writing prompts aren’t helping. Reading isn’t helping. Watching TV isn’t helping. Nothing is working, and I feel like a writing failure.

I AM NOT ENJOYING IT!

For what it’s worth, it has helped me to see that I am not a “realism” writer, but that I am definitely a fantasy writer. I also, typically, like my stories to be wrapped up with a nice little bow, which is something I’m trying to change. Stories need to be a little messy, and I’ve never been good with messy writing.

So, here I am, trying to revise a story that I don’t even like, to turn it into something that I do like, but that will also satisfy my teacher, and I have nothing. It’s like all of the creative juices in my brain are on vacation and they forgot to leave behind a substitute.

I’ll keep writing, of course. What else can I do?

The story has to be written and I am a writer.

For better or worse, I am a writer.

I keep telling myself that.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I AM a writer.

Technology Forgotten

I realized today that I sometimes I forget that I have the WordPress app on my iDevices. I waste so much time playing games and reading eBooks, that I forget I have a writing tool at my disposal at all times. I even carry my Bluetooth keyboard around everywhere I go, so I always have the ability and usually the opportunity to take time to write a blog post, or something.

I’m taking a creative writing class this semester. It is basically a fiction writing workshop, and it has been tough. I have to write two 12-15 page stories this semester, and when I started classes, I had absolutely no ideas. So, I tossed something together and it was terrible. I started over and came up with something that will work, but that I is still not pleasing.

Writing is hard. I want to write so badly, and all of the time. I want so much to be one of those people who wakes up at 5:00 AM ready to spend time writing before they start their day. I am not. I’m one of those people who is so tired of being on a computer all day long, that by the time I come home, I just want to forget that computers exist and watch TV or something equally mindless.

Technology is such a convenience that I take it for granted. I’m always complaining about how I don’t have time to do the things I want. I don’t have time to write, to blog, to focus on music. I was reminded this week that I have an amazing tool for making music at my disposal in my iDevices, yet I don’t use them. I have the ability to do any of these things at any time I want without much effort on my part, and yet I still get frustrated over a “lack of time.” Remembering that I have a way to make music helped me to remember that WordPress has an app, which means I can blog from anywhere, even if I don’t have WiFi. And, since I always have my phone, I always have Evernote, which is my writing tool of choice. So, I have to ask myself, what am I complaining about? I have everything I need to do all the things I want to do. Now, I just have to do them.

Blogging and Writing

Over the past 7 years, I’ve made several attempts at blogging.  I’ve started public blogs, private blogs, blogs under a different name, and so on.  Unfortunately, I’ve never had much luck staying totally faithful to it.  I have always looked at blogging as an exercise in writing.  If I could stay faithful to a blog, then perhaps I would have a chance to actually make it as a writer someday.  Also, writing in any form is good practice, and since my chosen career path is leading me into a world where writing is a requirement, well, I need all the practice I can get.

I love writing, but I have been unable to make a lasting commitment to write on a daily basis, which is what every good writer advises writers to do.  It isn’t that I don’t have time.  I just don’t make time.  Of course, that problem is complicated by the fact that I love to write, so I find myself wanting to write, but without the energy or motivation to actually do it.

So, this attempt at blogging isn’t commitment-related.  There are several factors that are behind my decision to start another blog that is a combination of several previous blogs.  One, WordPress has a much better interface for the iPad, and since the iPad has become a major part of my writing life, it seemed a logical move.  Two, I started an anonymous blog about a year ago that was all about my journey as a writer.  I loved that blog, but once I made the decision to start blogging again, maintaining two blogs (as I’ve discovered previously) is annoying and frustrating.  So, the few posts I had on that blog are now combined with my the posts from my other blogs that were previously on Blogger.  Three, I really do want to write more.  Once I decided that I’m not writing for anyone except myself, it became easier to justify having a blog that was out there and probably not being read.  So, this is the place.  The place I’ll be writing whenever the mood strikes.  I’m hoping this is my final move, but I make no guarantees.  I will do whatever it takes to try to force myself to become a more committed writer, so if that means starting a new blog every two or three years, then it is a small price to pay if it eventually works.