Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm not Smarter Than You

“You can write anything you want to – a six-act blank verse, symbolic tragedy, or vulgar short, short story. Just so that you write it with honesty and gusto, and do not try to make somebody believe that you are smarter than you are.” – Brenda Ueland in If You Want to Write.
I read stories and think “I want to write like that.” So I sit down with a story idea and give it a try – writing in someone else's style. It never works. Maybe it's because I don't really understand how the author accomplished what she did. Maybe it's because it's not a style I can relate to.

My published stories encompass a few genres, but literary stories are still beyond me. I write one and submit it to a critique group. I read the comments and highlight those that are most helpful. I set the piece aside for a week or two, then review the story and comments and begin the rewrite process -- if I have an idea of where to go with the work. I have three stories in my needs-more-work pile that have been there for a few weeks, and I don't know if I'll ever get back to them. There are holes in the plot I can't seem to fill, feelings that I don't feel, and characters I don't know well enough to be able to tell their stories -- and perhaps ones I'm not passionate about anymore.

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