Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fermenting

I swore to myself when I made a blog that it wasn't going to be about writing. There's too many blogs about writing already. I said, "Frankie, if you're gonna have a blog, blog about something people (besides other writers) care about."

Today, besides writing, I took out the garbage.

You see my dilemma? I have nothing else to talk about.

So right now, I'm gonna say fuck it with blogging about something that isn't writing. I'm going to tell you about something that happened to me today, inside my head.

A long time ago, couple years now, I wrote a story. It wasn't a very good story. The writing was okay, but the story itself was shitty. I was pretty proud of it at the time. I didn't realize it was a shitty story.

It had this woman in it, and this baby, and some urban angst. Not much happened. There was drinking coffee, and maybe some wine. I don't recall anymore. But a lot of sitting around and consuming beverages and having dialog that left things unsaid.

I took it to my critique group (since disbanded--nothing to do with my shitty story). They loved it. They praised my prose and complimented my deliberately vague ending. This was in my literary phase. I was going to send that bad boy to The New Yorker, dontcha know. So anyway, my group, they loved it.

All except this one guy. He said, "She should kill him." It made sense, that story he told me, the one he said was in my story, and it was a damn fine story. The kind of story I like to read. I said, "That's a good story." But it wasn't my story.

Suddenly, it didn't seem like such a good story for The New Yorker after all. I read it through, and I thought, "Yeah, it would be better if she killed him."

But that's not the kind of story I wrote, back then. I wrote stories with lots of metaphors and portentous dialog. Real stories. Important stories. The kind of stories that comment on the human condition. Or at least the human condition, as it scans to Whole Foods-shopping, Prius-driving suburbanites.

I put that story up on the shelf. Never even subbed it. It tasted like ashes because I knew it could be better.

A while ago I realized all the stories I wrote were boring. The writing bit was fun. The daisy-chaining words together. But the core, the story, where it counts, even bored me, the writer. No wonder I piled up a big-ass heap of rejections. Very nice rejections that said some great things about my writing. But still rejections.

Because, underneath all the pretty words and semicolons, it was boring as fuck.

So that brings us to today. I've given up literary pretension. I have a genre soul. If it happens to come out all tarted up in metaphor and technique, that's okay--as long as it doesn't interfere with the story.

I hadn't thought about that shitty story in a long time, the one with the woman and the coffee drinking and the vague ending.

I think I'm gonna rewrite it. I think this time she's gonna kill him.