Lately, I feel that no matter what I do, I can’t tell a story to save my life. I have what I think are good ideas, I make good starts, and then the stories get stuck in dead-ends. When this has happened in the past, I’ve felt that it is because I am not yet ready to write the story–meaning I don’t yet have the skill to identify what the problem is and how to fix it. I’d like to think, however, that I am learning with each story I write. Certainly there are some stories that seem more effortless than other. “Take One For the Road”, after one or two false starts, virtually wrote itself. So did the story I wrote after that one. But since then, I’ve been stuck in a rut and it is frustrating for a number of reasons:
- It makes writing less fun and I end up finding excuses to avoid it.
- It is a reminder that I’m really not a pro at this yet; a professional writer would find a way to break through the rut
- I have the ideas, but I just can’t get the stories down in a way that I think are interesting to the reader.
Sometimes, I suspect I am over-thinking things, and that may be part of the problem. I need to allow the story to evolve more organically, but for me that is easier said than done.
I mention all this because I think my frustration reached a pinnacle last night. While thinking about how I was going to work my way out of the latest cul-de-sac, I had the following through slip through my mental filters: Maybe I should take a break from writing for a little while–the rest of the month perhaps.
This was not only a terrifying thought, but I suspect is the absolute wrong thing to do at a time like this. What I need more than anything is to figure out why my stories aren’t working, and fix it. Also easier said than done, but certainly more productive than giving up, especially if I want to continue to grow in this field that I love so much.
Sometimes, a little encouragement goes a long way, and the unending stream of recent rejections can be discouraging, even to someone who likes to think he has a thick skin–not because I feel rejected (I know better than that) but because I like to think I’m learning and improving with each new story.
So this post is me, queuing up Gonna Fly Now and attempting to encourage myself to keep at it, keep plugging away, don’t give up. I’ve done it three times before, certainly I can do it again. I just have to be patient. I have to learn not to try so hard–like a pitcher who is overthrowing the ball, I need a lighter touch. These are all vague things. What I really need is to find that lost enthusiasm and turn out a kick-ass science fiction story.
That would go a long way to quenching these self-pitying ruminations.