Sep 18, 2008

on the writing front

I haven't talked about writing in this space in a long time. Come to think of it, I don't know if I've ever talked about writing in this space. I'm pretty sure all of those thoughts, musings, and updates were left in the wake of old blogs that have long since been retired.

The main reason for this is that I haven't been writing. At all. OK, so there's the occasional melodramatic poem, but nothing of substance in the least. And I'm learning something, and that is that I'm a much better, and happier, person when I AM writing.

So I've started a little project. I'm half sure that it will end up saved in a folder right beside all of the other half finished writing projects that I've started, but who knows, maybe this one is the magic bullet. I'm working on developing some ideas for short stories. At this point I'm viewing them more as exercises than as something that I may seek to publish.

I've always loved the poignant and very direct style of Flannery O'Conner. I've learned from past exercises, and a few undergrad writing classes at AU, that imitation is not only a sincere form of flattery, but it is a great way to hone your own style and to find your own strengths. I learned this lesson very well 2 summers ago when I spent a few months trying to imitate T.S. Eliot. I chose characters in the world around me and then wrote poems about them in the way that I thought Eliot would have written them about those same people and in those same circumstances. Not that I want to be Eliot, quite the opposite actually, but the exercise helped me learn more about my own perspectives and about my own strengths and passions as a poet.

So here I am developing stories about people in the same way that I think O'Conner would have written them. The hardest part for me at this point is the sheer blunt brutality of human nature that shows its face in her writing. She stares the darkest parts of who we are right in the eye and shows the reader just how close we all are to being the kind of people that we claim to abhor. Long term, this probably isn't a style that I'll stick with, but it is teaching me to pay very close attention to characters and too look deeper inside them than I have before.

These short stories also provide a decent place for me to practice writing dialogue. So much of what I've done has been in a non-fiction prose format, that dialogue doesn't come easy to me. I can write 10,000 words about what kind of conversation my characters just had, but I can't seem to write the damn conversation. The short story format doesn't have the intimidating factor of length to dissuade me, so I can keep pressing on with dialogue, knowing that I'll be able to wrap it up shortly.

Anyway, that's that.


Mike said...

any chance we will get a peak at some of the drafts?

Nightmare said...

Good luck with your project. I feel they way you do. I am happier when I am writng. But my writing is not saved in a file because I do all of it on typewriters. So its really just a stack of papers aching to be read by any one who dares to read them.