Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Avoiding the Challenge I Can Do

After school was over last week I gulped four books, one after another, in the space of five days. Like a seal eating herring. As if that was my only responsibility, to read until my head hurt. Golly, did it make me happy. And now the apartment is a total mess and there's no food in the fridge. C'est la vie [du livre].

I learned piles of good stuff this semester. My two classes were so different but equally useful and fascinating. The experimental lit class, for which we read a book per week in the first half of the semester, was technically a workshop class, and among its many virtues, it helped to prepare me directly for one of the major projects on my plate in the next two years. One of the things our professor repeated again and again was that we had to write the thing we didn't know how to write. I know that sounds either contradictory or like one of those semi-platitudes that writers and pop Buddhists tend to spread around (i.e. "To move forward, you must take the first step" - they're pretty easy to invent, actually, you just phrase tautologies so they sound metaphorical and profound).

But this one's actually true. If you write the thing you don't know how to write - the thing you're not sure you can write - you develop your skills as you're writing it, and this means that you grow far faster. If you just do donuts writing the stuff you already know how to write, it's like paying a prostitute. It's a sure thing, and it doesn't satisfy, and it doesn't have any meaning.

I don't know, but I suspect, that this is part of the reason I've been balking like an unbroke horse at writing the next short story I have to write. For a while I was all blocked up with how to build the characters and the climax and whatnot, but now I've got that sorted out thanks to a very helpful friend, and there's no reason not to get started. But I haven't. I have no excuses. Except possibly that it feels like it might be less of a challenge than the last two stories I finished. Like Lisa Simpson, I prefer challenges I can do, but I'm concerned that since it doesn't look like much of a challenge, it's not going to be much of a story, either.

Well, crap

There are more significant writing challenges on my list, but I want to get this particular story out of my head. After that I think I'll finally be ready to do Highbinder revisions. Gack.

In other news, I got tired of fucking around with the bread story and sent it out to a scary, intimidating market. I'm planning to do the same thing with the journalist story (different market, same scary/intimidation level), hopefully this week, after some more revisions and if I can think up a frigging title for it. A market that accepted a story of mine last fall, with a promised pub date of December '13, has gone pretty much AWOL, so I think I'm going to withdraw that story come June 1st and look for a new market for it. Actually, that happened with two of my acceptances last year, but the other piece is short, and isn't really of use in any other way, so I might record it and put it on my SoundCloud.

And I bought a ukulele from eBay. I haven't played an instrument since I was like 14, and that was for school rather than for the joy of it, so I thought this might be fun. If you have ukulele tips, please send them along.

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