Once upon a time, a few years ago, I thought I might write a novel. Although it would be decidedly fictional, I would, like many novelists do, base it on so many experiences. My thinking was (and to some extent still is) that my trials and tribulations – both those that were self imposed as well as those that were just “bad luck” – could be used to sculpt a compelling narrative. It could be an adventure, it could be a tragedy, it could even be a comedy depending on how I chose to put the pieces together. I didn’t think about it that thoroughly at the time (a theme that would have to appear in any story I write, it is the story of my life), but that didn’t stop me from plunging in. I started to write it. I even created a blog to post it. After three chapters, despite very positive feedback from the few who read them, I stopped.
I haven’t written any fiction since. I would say that I haven’t even done any “creative” writing since, but that is as false a statement as is the genre “creative writing.” All writing is creative. True, the creations are not all beautiful, the creations do not all rise to the level of art, or at least not good art, but the act of putting words together to create something that did not exist before is, by definition, creative. However, when it comes to making stories that did not exist before, the work of fiction and the writing of novelists, it means more than creating just new combinations of words. Most of the stories created run along familiar themes, many are adapted from age-old ideas and many, while still running along these familiar themes, are also about us – all of us – not just the lives lived by those who write, but about all of our lives.
It seems the human experience in all its unlimitedness is mostly nuances of very old, very familiar stories. Love, love lost. Good versus evil. Triumph. Tragedy. Greed. Redemption. And a host of other common themes make up the walls of the box we all live in. My story was based on a reality/dream sequence that would come to some resolution in the end, but leave the reader wondering (as I do in real life) what is really real. I was simply retelling a new version of what happened to me about 15 years ago. It was surreal, but in a fiction/non-fiction sense, it was firmly rooted on the non-fiction side of the tracks. So, even my one solid attempt at this so-called “creative writing,” my one serious attempt at fiction, was simply an account of what I dreampt combined with changing the names (to protect both the innocent and the not-so-innocent).
Recently, the ideas have started coming at me again. The creation part of these ideas involves, obviously, new writing, but it also involves creating new stories. The hard part, as always, is transforming the ideas into words; the act of giving life to my characters and painting a landscape for the world they live in is creative, sure, but it is also a lot of fucking work. It’s all stuff I didn’t think about when I attempted to do it before. But it’s also stuff I’ve done over and over and over and over again. It’s simply a different level of abstraction. The stories are limited, but the characters, the world and the time in which they act are left to the imagination of the writer. It’s not that I could not imagine such stories – I believe everyone is equally creative – it’s the ability, the willingness and the desire to do the work of creation. That, for me, has always been a moving target. When everything is just right (and “just right” is not something I can create, apparently), the words just poor out of me. When it’s not, I am shut down. Something has been seriously not right for a while now. I don’t know what it is, but I do think it is near the end.
Therefore, the moral of this story extends well beyond the story itself. Also, what is not written here is important, too. This story is not over yet. The particular sub-plot or chapter or part xx could be a story of triumph, it could be one of tragedy, it is already in some ways comedy and in terms of love and love lost, those elements exist as well. But how the end comes about is still not known. A mushy, gooey happy ending? I’ve never been much for those, but to experience one for once would be nice. Life, and my life especially, is not nearly so neat. Life is messy. It seems as though I haven’t much choice in the matter, but in the big picture is could be worse. Much worse. One thing is sure -it won’t get written unless I write it. And by “it,” I am not talking about some novel.