Early this year I talked about my 5-year bout of writer’s block when it comes to writing fiction. The last story I sold, “Gemma Barrows Comes To Cooperstown” was back in 2015. Since then, my ability to write stories seemed to have faltered.
Yesterday, for no reason in particular, I started to write again. I wrote a little over 1,200 words and I guess I have a new story underway. I don’t know much about it yet. I don’t know if I will finish it. I tried to work slower than I normally do, but I was sort of sucked into it and wrote more than I expected.
Whatever it is I am writing, it will be a short story. I think, in retrospect, part of what caused my writer’s block was my desire to try to be a novelist, when a novelist I am not. I wrote one novel draft in my life–back in 2013–and trunked it after writing the first draft. I wanted the experience, but the result wasn’t very good. Plus, these days, novels tend to required things like agents and I don’t want to get into all of that. Short stories worked for me in the past, and maybe they will work for me again in the future.
Part of what worked for me is that I didn’t do any kind of preamble to my writing. Often, I try new tools, or spend time on automations that will “aid my writing” rather than, you know, actually sitting down and writing. Yesterday, I opened Scrivener on my Mac, used my custom short story template that I created years ago to create a new file, and I just started to write.
I would be lying if I said I wrote without thinking about the quality of what I was writing. Ideally, when writing a first draft, I focus on telling myself the story. But I did find myself tweaking the wording along the way, something I try to avoid in first drafts so that I can get the whole idea down on paper. Tweaking and rewriting is for later drafts. Still, I actually wrote and what I wrote was not horrible.
I haven’t been to my writer’s group since before the pandemic–more than two years now–but I recently had lunch with a couple of the long-timers, and it made me think about returning. Now that I have started to write again, maybe that will provide further incentive for me to return. (I belong to a really good writers group–several of the stories I submitted to the group I later sold; and our group has had best-selling writers, and writers who went on to write for Hollywood, and publish novels and do all sorts of amazing things.)
I hesitated to say anything about my writing here until I’d actually finished a story, but I was just so excited that I was writing fiction again, that I threw caution to the wind, and here I am telling you all about it. Forgive me if I come across as both giddy and apprehensive. After all, isn’t ambiguity a quality of good fiction?
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