Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing and reasons

I hated when my English teachers and professors told me what to think about a story. Usually, it's just an elderly gentleman who caught a really big fish. I can not imagine that Hemingway set out with some incredible social commentary in mind when penned that story, but many well-read supposedly knowledgeable people will tell you that the story is incredibly deep, with meanings inside of meanings, and that Hemingway did it on purpose.
I call Bullsh*&.
I wrote a short story for a writing contest back in December called Alien Life; it wasn't very good, came in fifth out of three entries, and most likely should not have been written (here is where you, dear reader, hit the comment button and tell me how wonderful I am). I started the story as a simple explanation for a bell shaped spot on a counter at work. It was an odd thing and it stayed there for weeks. Odd.
Then, I thought I could try to document paranoia, the disintegration of a mind. So that is what I did, under the guise of being taken over by an alien (I did touch the spot, by the way).
Then, the story was done, edited, re-edited, and submitted. It should have been edited again, removing about 750 words. (Again, comment button, tell me, tell me) Then I printed it and let is sit for a week or three, picking it up again and reading it. Oops. I realized that the story, while not a very good description of paranoia, was a blatant parable about how depression/suicide destroys everything around the one who takes his/her own life.
I did not set out to do that, I set out to write a story about an alien. Stories take the author, not the other way around, and, to be honest, when a project has to be pushed (such as trying to get a group of people out of a cabin), maybe it is time to end the project. Then again, going backwards, if the characters let you, works as well. That sticking point could be the story telling you that this is a good stopping point, now figure out more about how the characters ended up in the cabin.

1 comment:

J.R. Wagner said...

1. bad judges
2. rubric not provided to the writers before they submitted...probably not a good idea