Getting to the root of my fiction problemPosted: August 25, 2012
I have been quite happy with the progress my blogs are making, with the gradual increase in page-views and likes, and a couple of new followers every week. The nods and smiles I’ve been getting from the WordPress community have had a bolstering effect on my drive to write.
I have been sick for the past several days, and focusing on getting as much rest as possible in order to recover quickly. I tried to give myself a break from writing, but I found I couldn’t keep away. I kept sneaking it in. It’s become a compulsion.
As gratifying as it is to realize on your own that you’ve found your calling, it is very exciting to get positive feedback and encouragement from complete strangers who have no reason to give it to you, other than that they genuinely like what you’re doing.
On Friday morning, I was very excited to learn from the WordPress editors that my most recent post had been chosen to be featured on Freshly Pressed. I’ll admit I was surprised that it was that particular piece that caught their attention.
My husband catches up on my blogs in the evening, after work, and typically chuckles or tells me which parts he liked best. He almost always says afterward, “honey, I love the way you write.” After that last post, however – nothing.
I figured it just wasn’t that good. When I got the Freshly Pressed email, I mentioned to him that it seemed that he wasn’t impressed by the post. He said, “yeah… it was okay.”
(I am proud to say that I managed to remain outwardly polite and interested while inwardly harrumphing.)
He went on to say that he likes it better when I tell stories, rather than just “reflecting,” because he’s familiar enough with how I think that reading my reflections on things isn’t particularly interesting or illuminating. (Then why does he like my book reviews? Such a complex man, he is.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my first critic!
I kid, I kid. He is neither the first nor a true critic. He does hold me to a high standard, which I must always remember to take as a compliment.
Anyway, it’s a lovely feeling to be recognized by a writing community as a decent writer. It gives me a sense of validation in my chosen pursuit – not that outside validation is necessary, but it is so very welcome. Knowing that there is even a small handful of people out there who enjoy reading my words makes writing them all the more appealing.
That knowledge has given me the courage to branch out, to put some earnest effort into something that I previously believed myself to be incapable of – fiction. I love reading it, I have another blog dedicated to reviewing it, but I’ve long felt that I just couldn’t write it.
Somewhere along the line, I misplaced my ability to fabricate a story. I used to do it quite a bit when I was younger. Recently, while going through school papers and other memorabilia, I’ve found fledgling stories about unicorns, tiny people riding dragonflies, and other feats of pure imagination. Why did I stop creating things?
I am tempted to think that school beat it out of me. Years of writing essays turned me into an essay writer.
Most of your time at school is spent spewing facts back at the teacher. In essays, however, there is wiggle room. When taking exams, I discovered in myself an ability to convince a teacher or a professor that I knew what I was talking about, without actually knowing the material.
I accomplished this by rewording the essay questions and embellishing what little information I could glean from the multiple choice questions in the rest of the test. This method usually worked well enough to earn me at least a B on the essay, even if I truly didn’t add more than one or two facts from my own memory.
That’s pretty sad, when you think about it. What exactly was I learning? The art of the con, that’s what.
All that time, I was writing what other people wanted and expected to see, recycling information. While creative enough in its own right, this seemed to starve and stifle a deeper, more meaningful creativity within me.
I don’t think it’s dead yet, but it’s been gasping for air for years, too weak to make its voice heard.
I’ve been looking for that creativity lately, trying to nurture it and feed it. I may not be able to restore it to its original strength, but with enough care, perhaps I can give it the opportunity to redeem itself. With any luck, in a few years’ time I’ll have written my novel, and you’ll all be telling me how much you loved it.
Hey, I’m allowed to have a dream.