January 23, 2004

a key

Writing this latest short story has been revelatory. It feels like the first time I've nailed a story. First. Time. Ever. So of course I find myself trying to decipher what I did right.

I think part of the answer is the subject. It's inherently emotional, and that's key because it draws you through the story. But I've had that before, I think, and not been as successful. Dan thinks the biggest part is that I let go of plot. Or rather, de-emphasized plot. The story itself is simpler and so I can concentrate on what I'm best at, a kind of nearly-but-not-quite freeform prose that builds on itself.

When I write it out like that, it sounds like bragging, but I think it's important for any writer -- or anyone, really -- to know their strengths. Why hobble yourself trying to do something that doesn't fit you? Why not gear your work toward what you know you can do well? Okay, yes, it's good to stretch yourself. Trust me, writing stretches me. Even when it's easy it's not.

So now I'm thinking of ideas that will allow me to focus more on the telling and less on the story. An interesting side effect is that the ideas I'm coming up with make me squirm. ("I have to go there? Live that?") I think that's a good sign.

Posted by Tamar at January 23, 2004 10:11 PM