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Apr. 21st, 2005 @ 06:19 pm (insert "insert annoying postmodernism" here)
Those of you on my friendslist may remember my "I don't read enough" entry from last week. Well, I neglected to mention that I wrote that entry because I tried to write one of Those Stories (those of you who know me well enough know what I am talking about) and what I came up with did not do justice to the source material. I was getting bogged down in style and technique and rules and workshop comments, and my writing was not improving and everyone else's was, so I put away the targeting computer and flew into the trench with only the Force as my guide. And I crashed.

From a purely mechanical perspective, the short was utter shit--self-indulgent diction, poorly realized characters, poor attention to detail, excessive melodrama, sensitive subject matter (how dare I write a war story when I've never been at war). There's so much to find fault with if you read it as a writer or a critic, and this became painfully evident to me when I went to class the next day to workshop short after short of heart-renderingly subtle, painstakingly detailed prose. But this is what happens when you write a story with your heart. You know deep inside what makes a good story, far more than professors and textbooks and passive-aggressive freshmen, and if you can follow that then to hell with the rules. Because the rules are there to help you find that part of you, the part that separates the sublime from the merely decent, and sometimes they're not the only way.

This revelation came to me last Tuesday as the professor revealed to us that she had been lying all along, that show-don't-tell isn't always the best way to tell a story, and she brought us to the way of the minimalist. A dirty trick, I suppose, as it had ruined a lot of my class's creative output by compelling us to use overwrought imagery and an outrageous abundance of specific detail, but in retrospect it was a good way to learn. I suppose my subconscious realized a little early that something was wrong, and that's why it was screaming for me to damn the rules and let it write the story. And now that I know these things, the story doesn't seem so bad anymore. Bewilderment of bewilderments, my classmates agree--though my classmates got a little lost in the history and the setting, they liked it a lot. Especially the ending. I thought the ending was horribly overdone, but one of my classmates actually congratulated me on being able to pull off such loaded subject matter without resorting to melodrama. And another classmate, a person I generally don't talk to outside of class, stopped me outside of King to tell me that she really liked it and that it was better than the usual fare. This is the first time my writing has ever stood out in workshop, or that anyone who doesn't know Mr. Morris has given special attention to anything I have written. And as I read it again I picked up a little of what they said, and dropped a lot of what they said, and I realized something: it's not the best story in the world, it's not remotely publishable, it's not even mechanically sound--but it's honest. Brutally honest and straight from the heart. It's something you can't get from stories about dating, visiting bars, or going to summer camp (irritatingly common motifs in workshop). I feel like I've tapped the first drop from the vast reservoir of trauma that compelled me to be a writer in the first place, a source of inspiration that has until this week been completely inaccessible.

I'm not posting the short. I haven't made up my mind about it.
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Date:April 21st, 2005 11:55 pm (UTC)
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I resist.
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Date:April 22nd, 2005 02:51 am (UTC)
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I don't know you well enough. I am glad you feel better about your writing, though.
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Date:April 22nd, 2005 04:00 am (UTC)

who the hell are you

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why are you on my friends lsit iliterate savage?