Monday, May 24, 2010

I Like for Things to be Story-Shaped

This fantastic first line comes from "The Flints of Memory Lane", a short story in Neil Gaiman's book Fragile Things. I get a chill listening to it on audio book. It's a line that rings true for me. I do like things to be story shaped. I like the way books make things so much clearer. There is character and plot and progress. But as Gaiman is quick to point out, reality is very rarely story shaped. Perhaps that is why I read so much. Perhaps that is why I tell stories.

I don't remember when I started telling myself stories. I don't remember anything before five so I'll say then. I know I was in middle school when the thought occurred to me that I should write them down. Sadly that only happens some of the time. But the stories keep coming. In the car I sit at stoplights and talk to myself. At home while folding laundry I create dialogue between characters. I move plots forward at breakneck speeds. All in my head. I've been doing this since I was young. It's not going away anytime soon.

I couldn't sleep last night. It was way too hot for sleep (over 80 all night). And as I lay there in bed I thought about my stories and my non-existent writing and I wondered where the disconnect was. I could have written dozens of novels with the stories I've created. I could have already been published. But I rarely write them down and I thought about why that's the case. And I came to a startling conclusion. I'm ashamed of my stories. I have been for years. For a while I would try to force myself to stop. Tell myself that if I stopped telling these silly stories then I could write those great works of fiction that I knew I had in me. Or I could write those wonderful children's stories that would make children happy. Or I could write anything worthwhile. Instead what I tell myself are silly romance stories, or relationship dramas. I created characters who went about their normal lives and had normal dreams. And those stories have never seemed worthwhile to me. Always more like fluff than good fiction. But I think I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to try writing the stories that are inside me. Stop waiting for those great works of literature to come and just write my silly little tales and see what happens. See where it goes. "I like for things to be story-shaped". Let's see where that goes.


Salt said...

You know, that's why I started writing. I have these great conversations/arguments with myself, and it's a shame I forget them, and then have the same argument later.

Well, now there's a record.

Cat B said...

Why is it that the idea of you arguing with yourself doesn't surprise me? :-)

Plus the rest of us get to enjoy them this way.