Over these last few weeks (maybe in this last month or so), I’ve been slowly writing a short story. It is now finished or, at least, I’ve convinced myself that it’s finished, and I’ve emailed it off to a few friends for their opinions on it.
It was an interesting process – from the inspiration and inception, the creation and construction, and the polishing and sharing. For something relatively small (it’s only about 3100 words long), it has been a rather daunting and exhausting project.
What was hardest for me was working through self-criticisms (while writing and while editing/proofreading) but also the sharing part of the process. Somehow, although it’s not based on real events, it feels very personal, and the thought of showing my story to other people (even to good friends) made me nervous. I’m probably more nervous about people reading my story than about people reading my blog, which you’d think was rather personal too (and I guess it kind of is, but maybe slightly less so, since the whole purpose of this blog is sharing, so the intent is clear from the start).
And while I feel compelled to ask others to read it – to seek approval and hence validation – I’m also afraid of the judgement and changing of people’s opinions of me (if there is a concise word for that, please let me know). I read somewhere once (really can’t remember where – might’ve been in a book or even on someone’s blog) that all stories are autobiographical to some extent. That is, even works of fiction reflect or depict the author’s life/mind/soul to some degree. It is not possible to have a complete separation between the author and story.
Having said that, there’s also that theory about monkeys at typewriters and how, given enough time, a monkey would, by pure random coincidence or dumb luck, type out a Shakespearean masterpiece without even realising it.
I have a feeling that this post is becoming very jumbled and incoherent. My simple excuse for that is that my brain, itself, is jumbled from having laboured over this short story, re-reading it over and over again in search of holes and creases and loose threads.
I almost decided not to write this post at all – not because it’s jumbled (a poorly structured post has rarely stopped me from posting before) but because of what it’s about. Initially, I didn’t tell a lot of people that I was writing. Actually, I didn’t tell anyone at all. I was afraid of people’s reactions, but I was also working on the theory that if no one knows, then there’s no pressure; it’s all ok.
But it’s so much a part of me (and I, a part of it), and writing gives me such an incredible feeling (on those good days when I’m not questioning and picking apart every little detail that readers may or may not notice), so I wanted to share that with others. Eventually, I told a few friends. Then I told a few more. Now I just want to tell everyone.
Those last two paragraphs aren’t actually about the short story. I am, in fact, writing a book (or attempting to). Back when I wrote that post about reading vs writing, I was in the midst of a writing frenzy, and was actually alluding to writing fiction, not to writing posts for this blog (although that, too, is wonderfully satisfying).
And, no, I don’t have any illusions about getting published and becoming famous (they’re dreams, sure, but I’ve been keeping my expectations realistic here (possibly too realistic, if that’s a thing)). I’ve been working on this book since January 1 this year: when I got home on NYE, I opened up a Word document and started typing. (And, no, despite it being New Year’s, I wasn’t drunk/hungover/drugged at the time.)
It’s something I’m doing to prove a point to myself, just like someone might train to run a marathon, or prepare themselves to climb Mt Kosciuszko. You won’t necessarily get fame and riches from doing those things (you might end up a lot poorer for all the expense); and your friends and family might applaude you for a while afterwards but soon forget all about it. And yet, something within you tells you that you must do this.
Let’s be honest here: I wrote my short story because I was inspired by “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” (by Richard Flanagan), but also because I was procrastinating from writing my book. And the reason why I was procrastinating was because I was stuck – stuck by my own criticism, doubts and fears. Writing that short story helped free me. Writing this post has helped refocus my mind. I’m not writing for others – well, I kind of am, but fundamentally, I’m writing for myself.
Phew.. I feel better now. Thanks for reading 🙂 And if you’re interested in reading my short story, please let me know. Maybe I could send you a copy (I’m probably not going to post it here… The story’s kind of depressing…)