Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Writing (Part 1)

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.