I’m about halfway through my third short story in as many months, and what’s really weird and interesting about how this is happening is how little thought I am putting into it. Let’s be clear at the outset: I have no idea whether any of this is really any good, but for the moment I don’t think this is an important question to ask – in fact I don’t think it is a relevant question at all.
First of all, I didn’t plan on doing this, it just happened. What I mean by that is this: I started writing this blog, and after doing that daily for two years I suddenly and spontaneously wrote a short story, having never written fiction before. I have no idea where it came from, and I am not questioning it, because the act of doing it makes me feel like I am growing, which is pretty cool when you’re 62.
It’s a strangely satisfying feeling, almost as if I am not the one writing this stuff – more like I am a conduit. I should note that the creative process is nothing new to me – I have written and played music my whole life. But creating music is an extremely complex endeavor, at least to do it on a high level. There are so many disciplines to master before you can even start working – it can be daunting to say the least. Writing is clean and simple – you sit down, put your ideas into words, and you’re done. Writing and recording music is more like making a movie – it’s a big, BIG production, almost like going to war.
After doing it for so many years, I kind of hit a wall. So the process of writing almost feels like I’m purging myself of a backlog of pent-up creative energy that I couldn’t get out by writing and creating music. The only people that have read any of this stuff that I am aware of is my wife and my therapist, both of whom seem to think I have something going on, whatever that means. They are encouraging, but maybe most importantly, when I finish a piece, I think it’s good. I used to feel this way about music I wrote…
All I know is that I’m having fun. I sit down to write, and it just comes out. I will edit sentences as I write them, but not too much. I just start and go, letting the story and characters take me where they will. The only pre-planning is that I will have a one sentence idea in my head of what the story will be about, but I’ll even change that if the thing wants to go somewhere else. Then I look at it kind of like recording – the first takes are usually the best, so I don’t really rewrite. I might get to that point in the future, but right now I don’t want to question it. I’m kind of on fire to write, so I’m just going with it.
The only question I wrestle with is this: Is it OK for me to go wherever my imagination takes me? “Cuz trust me – my imagination can go to some very dark and disturbing places. Places that would certainly be too uncomfortable for most readers. In fact, the story I am working on now is based on a idea that is very, very wrong. I, however, find it really compelling. I think it’s safe to say that it won’t ever be published anywhere beyond this blog. Even here, I feel the need to point out what to me seems obvious: nothing should be off limits in art.
Consider yourself warned.