Draft of March

So, where’s the short story?

A month ago, I had promised a short story – at least a rough one; possibly not ready for publication, but ready for criticism and praise. It was February, and over at Syntax of Things, this meant Short Story Writing Month. I was game. I could do this, I thought, and I began doodling away.

Three false starts later, I’m no further along than when I started. Writing isn’t easy. In fact, it’s very difficult. Even if you have the basic skills, you can’t get anywhere without a vivid imagination and an organized train of thought. Neither of which are my strong points, I’m afraid.

Here’s the problem. I assumed that writing a short story was as easy as penciling out an idea and expanding upon it. I assumed that a great short story could be written about anything – two old friends on a car ride, a person who lost his paycheck, a Ween song – but that’s not the case. Unless there’s some vested interest for the reader, it’s nothing but a boring pile of words. I put too much weight into what I should be able to do without thinking of what I could do.

The hardest things I found were the basics. I needed to let my characters write themselves, but I never felt like I had a good grasp of what they were supposed to do. I needed to be simple and clear, but I found myself typing wandering descriptions of minutiae. I needed to be motivated, but I only found myself more and more frustrated. I needed to give myself time to stop everything else and think of nothing but the craft – the art of writing, of getting the story down and fixing it later, of feeling confident enough that I could do something like this.

I needed a reason to write – something more than just “because it’s February.” I needed an idea to build a story around, not a story with an idea to be found later.

So, in the simple sense of the word, I failed at ShoStoWriMo. But, in a more realistic vein, I learned a lot about writing and I discovered that I wasn’t alone. Lots of people failed, if that’s the term we want to use. And for that reason, ShoStoWriMo has been extended – at least from the Syntax of Things perspective – into Draft of March.

So no, there will be no short story from February. Someday, though.

Someday, there will be.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 4th, 2007