Wednesday, October 1, 2014

At least I'm writing somewhere...

I know my blog has been a bit lonely lately, and there's no good excuse for that. I've let a year and a half go by again, so there's too much to catch up on. We moved closer to Seattle in May 2013, and life has certainly been better for that...I've cut my time in the car by a lot (28 miles a day versus 126 a day is a lot).  The family is doing well, so there's no major update there. Just...life goes on!

The main reason for this post is just to make sure that my blog doesn't get removed for inactivity (that can't happen though, can it?), and to talk a little about one of my recent side projects. Just for my own interest, though, since this blog is probably not read anymore! ;)

I used to enjoy writing creatively...I did a lot of it in junior high and high school, but nothing much ever came out of it aside from winning a few relatively minor contest. Oh, and at one point I think I was named one of the 50 most promising young writers in Pennsylvania one year. I think that was probably a contest that only 50 people must have entered. But, I haven't written much of anything, aside from journals and stuff for college, law school, and work, for a long time.

About ten years ago(!) I had a strange dream that I thought I should make into a story (did I mention something about pharmaceutical dreams on this blog earlier?  later note: good grief, I did mention most of this on my previous blog post here! I'm apparently suffering from memory loss.). It was a weird dream, but very vivid. I took down a handful of notes from the dream, and promptly sat on them and did nothing with it. Soon after that dream, I had another one that I also thought would make a good story. It also was sat on for a long time. I finally started a story based on the first dream about three years ago. I wrote a few pages, got stuck, and didn't pick it up again until last month, when I figured I really needed to close the book on that story and just get it written. So, somehow I gutted it out over the next two days, and ended up with a 4700-word-or-so long story. It was a weird one...not anything I was particularly proud of, but the important thing was that I finally got some resolution to that dream ten years earlier.

I decided I'd submit it to a science fiction magazine just to see if anything came out of it, and then made the mistake of letting my wife read it. It wasn't a mistake to show it to my wife; it was the timing that was bad...she should have seen it before I submitted it. She thought the story was very stilted and didn't get the point of what I'd written. I had purposely made the dialogue super-formal to reflect life in an indeterminate future period, so she didn't like that, but I thought she would have liked the direction of the story a bit more. But, I'm a realist, and I value my wife's opinion highly since she's quite well-read, so I took that advice under advisement as I wrote a story twice as long to reflect the second dream I'd had. I like that one a lot better, and sent that off to a different literary magazine today. I don't expect the first one will get accepted, and I'm all right with that. I'll just keep it in my back pocket if I ever write more short stories and want to put a book of them together for my posterity. I think the second one has a pretty good shot, but a posting by my sister (who's an English Ph.D. candidate and a budding creative writer) today on Facebook that talks about the value in failing, has made me temper my expectations. That's not a bad thing.

But, as I wrote these stories, I've realized my major failing when it comes to writing...I'm not very creative. Coming up with a story to tell is really hard for me. Trying to come up with a good ending for a story is even worse. I managed to come up with my second story in about two weeks' time (I really dislike going back to edit the crap out of a story, but I do perform some edits since I know they're valuable--and very necessary in my case), but I think I'm now tapped out of fictional ideas. So, I decided a couple days ago to start a third project, which is more of a non-fiction book. I don't want to reveal any details at this point as I'm still contemplating what to do with it and if I will have enough in me to finish the job, but I have spit out another 4,000 words over the last three days, and since this is more of an observational-type writing, it's going a lot easier for me. I'm kind of distressed that I really don't seem to have it in me to come up with any ideas good enough to carry a novel, but I also know that the more we read, the more ideas we do get. For now, I'll just be satisfied if I can flesh out the book I've got in my head that I'm working on right now, and eventually maybe I'll decide if I want to try to sell the idea to a publisher or Kickstart a self published book. I think this is the kind of book I could get some traction with, as well as solicit contributions from others, but for now, I'm keeping that all close to the vest while I decide whether any of that will be necessary.

The takeaway I'm getting from all this, though, is that I am enjoying writing again. It's been a long time. One of the major discoveries I've made, aside from my lack of creativity for a fictional work, is that of a computer program called Scrivener made for writers which assists a lot in organizing their thoughts, parts of the work, and then compiles them into formats appropriate for submissions. For some reason, downloading this software has really jump-started my writing, so I'm grateful for that. I suppose that sometimes, you just need the right tools to help get the work done. I'll provide some updates soon, and possibly even the stories I wrote earlier themselves if they don't get picked up by a publisher. Then I can stop being quite so obtuse!!

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