Friday, February 25, 2005

Tough Choice

Well, let's see. I can either bitch about my job yet again, or I can post another small excerpt from Stephen King's On Writing and talk a little about my journey back into my own writing. Given that I'm tired of complaining about work, this isn't a difficult choice.

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of this book--perhaps too much--has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it--and perhaps the best of it--is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.

Drink and be filled up.

That's the last excerpt I'll post from King's "memoir of the craft." I'll just say that I like the book very much, I've read it several times, and I highly recommend it. I don't know that King has anything revolutionary to say about the writing process, but it's always good to have plenty of encouragement, which he provides. I also like it because of King's unique style, or voice, which comes through very clearly in this non-fiction work (and even more clearly in the audio version, read by King himself). It's very accessible, which is something I think all writing should be.

After spending far too long struggling with an inconsistent writing pattern (and that's being kind), I've recently begun trying to find my way back to making my own work a more regular part of each day. Instead of starting with something new, I thought a good way to warm myself up would be with a re-write of a story I already have. Not too long ago, I printed out a copy of a story I wrote in my undergrad days, and I went to work on it.

The story has a working title of "Scarred," but I don't know that it will keep that title. It just doesn't do it for me. It's a good title, in that it ties into the story itself and reflects the inner heart of it, but I just don't like it. Maybe it's because it's too easy. At any rate, once I'm satisfied with the next draft of the story, I'll be spending some time trying to come up with something else.

I like the story very much, even as it is. I've submitted it for publication to a few different literary magazines, with no luck so far. Still, I think the story is too good to be retired and forgotten about. That's why I dug it out and decided to go back to work on it. Having taken some time away from it, I thought I might have some new perspective and insight into how to make it a stronger piece.

It's an interesting thing to read through a piece I wrote several years ago, with the intention of going back to work on it. On one hand, I can remember writing it, and it feels very much like my own work. On the other hand, it's almost like reading someone else's work, simply because I'm no longer so close to it. It's easier to get outside of it and look at it more objectively. I saw right away some things that needed to be cut from the story entirely. As I read through it, I had a lot of ideas for things that would make the story stronger and more interesting. I'm very happy about that, because as I said, I like the story a lot. I would be very proud to have it be my first published piece. Once I finish it (again), I'll definitely be sending it out again.

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