I am so fuckin’ stuck.
A little while ago, i wrote a story called “The Dark to End All Nights,” which was somewhat horror, somewhat a literary story about family. It was a good story. It was sort of amazing while working on it, how it was working out. Not to suggest it was easy and simple, but it was complex and it WORKED on a level I’d never gotten to before. And when I finished it, I felt as exhausted and drained as if I’d written a novel, instead of a 7,000 word story.
The handful of lovely people I sent the story to all said good things, all noticed the things I had slipped in, the structural tricks and bits of narrative. It worked.
It was a hair-raising story, in the way that Ray Bradbury talks about, when he wrote “The Lake” and sat back with the hairs on his neck standing up, knowing he had at last written the first really good story.
I’ve been writing, shit, fifteen years or so now, at various levels of seriousness, and this was the first story I did that felt like I had done it right enough.
I’ve started-and-stopped five fuckin’ stories since then at various lengths. None of them have worked or fired. It’s like I’ve run with a stitch in my side every day for years, and then had one glorious run where I caught my wind and found my stride and just went and went and went…and then the next day, went back to a stitch in my side.
I’m about to finish a story, “Josef’s Train,” and I think it’s pretty okay…but while I like it, I don’t know that it’s fired the way the last one did.
I’m remembering a number of things at this point:
1) The VERY NEXT THING Ray Bradbury talks about, after the magical moment writing “The Lake” is that he then spent another several years beating around the bush trying to write that well again.
2) I may be writing just as well and not realizing it, not letting it settle in my mind.
3) regardless of how good or bad that one story was, letting it sit in my mind makes it a millstone, a thing I keep consciously putting in my own way, trying to live up to, which is lionizing something instead of just working.
All of these are perfectly rational points, all the right ones. And yet, and still.
Part of the problem is that it feels, writing-wise, like I’ve turned a huge corner, like I’ve gone up a huge level (pick yer metaphor, ten cents a head) parked my dinghy in a new harbor, latched my caboose on a new engine…(okay, I’m done). I’m having problems I’ve NEVER had before, and am unsure of how to deal with.
So I deal with them by writing frustrated blog posts.
Unfortunately, that isn’t helping the frustration, because in the process of writing this, I’ve discovered that my M key is sticking which is driving me nuts.
Oh well. Off I go to drink tea or something.