Saturday, September 02, 2006

Creative Writing Crisis

(This picture has little to do with the content of this post, but it makes me smile. Thank you, Bill Watterson!)

There is nothing worse than sitting over a blank sheet of paper and knowing, deeeeeeeeep in the back of your brain, that you have only one week to churn out a short story that will submitted to the all-consuming editorial maw of your peers and you're stuck with this piece of crap for weeks, doing revision after revision until your hands shake and you understand why Fitzgerald and Hemingway became alcoholics, but you have to keep editing and editing because your grade and writing reputation is at stake, here, but you get so damn tired that-

Yeah, I'm going to stop right there with that line of thought.

But that's the position I'm in-- I'll write, turn it in, get it back, do revisions, turn it back in again, get it back again, and so on. I know that at some point I will never want to see that story again.

I don't even know if I have a viable idea. It's something that happened several years ago, something that I thought would be too personal to write about. But I've been reading from my Creative Writing textbook and have come to the conclusion that if I change the characters, the setting, and the circumstances of my personal event, I could possibly come out of this with a good story on my hands. Or I could come out with a cliched piece of crap. Whichever.

I have no idea why this is so hard for me. Maybe it's because I have spent years writing critical essays that I've totally lost the knack for fiction. Hell, even my personal essays are mostly true, though admitted sometimes exaggerated to get the point across. This jumping into this short story stuff is like trying to do a split having not stretched for years: it going to hurt like hell.

Maybe I can come out of this unscathed and having learned a great deal about my craft. If not, my 21st birthday is coming up. Geniuses like Fitzgerald and Hemingway couldn't have gone too wrong!



  1. Not that it's very comforting, but I think it's probably a normal process of "getting back into it"... I know you have a lot of editing to do, but perhaps you'll find it a bit easier, if you don't think so much about the actual editing, as what it is that you actually want to tell, HOW you want to tell it, and what it is that you want to come across.

  2. I have a bunch of mind-expanding creative writing exercises that I use as lessons for my class. When the idea of nothingness swamps my creative motivation I pick out an exercise and do it up. They usually help spurn some creative mind juice.
    Let me know if you would like me to ship a copy of them to you.