Monday, February 20, 2012


Agraphia: a disorder marked by the inability to write.

The blank page and I stare each other down, each waiting for the other to blink first.

"The freedom of the modern short story writer from the need to be explicit or obvious was hard-won--it was achieved at the cost of alienating all but the few readers capable of understanding and appreciating the form." Rust Hills, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular

I write round and round in circles. Where is my beginning, middle end? I reach ten pages, only to realize I need to skip the first five. I try to put a flashback within a flashback. That will never work.

"Remember, your story is an uneasy bargain with your reader. Your end of the bargain is to play fair, and keep him interested, his end of the bargain is to keep reading." Shirley Jackson, "Notes for a Young Writer"

Nothing happens in my story, I learn. And when it does happen, it doesn't make sense, to the reader, that is. And then it's not believable. I can't do what I'm trying to do. The only cure is to put it in a shoebox in the barn for 30 years (or, as it were, in a folder on my hard-drive labeled "dead-end stories") and let it marinate. 

What was it Mark Twain said about letting a story go underground while you work on other things, let the dwarves or the earthworms or the subconscious or something work on it for you? (I can't remember where I read that because I am reading about 75 how-to-write books at the same time--all of them contradictory of each other and, quite often, themselves).

I wonder if I'll be able to get any story to do what I want it to do, say what I want it to say. People want action, it turns out, and marital strife. I add both to my new story, the one going round and round. I try to reign it in. Move the flashback-within-the-flashback to another place. I'm trying to tell two stories, one in the past and one in the present, the past explaining the present, parallel but opposite structures: a tree and a river system. A branching and a coming-together. Bifurcation and confluence. It involves a lot of going back in time to show how what happened then influenced what's happening now, why it's important, this convergence. I don't know if it works, if it will keep my reader interested, keep him reading to the end which, while not being too explicit or obvious. It could use, I'm sure, a period of time underground with the worms, but I don't have the time for that right now.


  1. Ditto!!!!! Shoot me an e-mail if you wish. I have many such stories "underground" perking. I've resurected some and found signs of life, yet I've been unable to fully reanimate them...thus far. But we keep trying don't we?
    Don't give up!

  2. Ha...I just discovered this kick in the behind: WARNING--lots of swear words.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...