Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Writing (Part 3)

I’ve been working on my latest short story for awhile, and I kind of got stuck, so I had to step away for a minute. I just couldn’t figure out what it was about, or where it wanted to go – I lost my way. In other words, I started to second guess myself. Now here’s a rhetorical question: What’s the difference between second guessing and rewrites? Answer: They’re both the same thing! Essentially, you know something’s wrong and it’s up to you to figure out what it is. If the thing smells off, you’ve got to find out what’s rotten.

Now, in retrospect, this all might have been a good thing, because now I’m wrapping it up and it eventually revealed itself to me. But for quite a while I kept thinking What am I writing about here? and got confused.

It’s interesting (and perhaps a bit telling) that I started it with a very specific title and then I changed it to something else. It was during this second phase that I became misdirected – like I was trying to write the story thinking about this new title and wondering what it meant, but nothing seemed to fit. Then, at some point, I realized if I just went back to the first title, it all made sense.

I think it’s important to note here that I have no real roadmap when I start these things – I just begin with some very simple idea and then let it take me where it wants to go.

This whole process is so fucking fascinating and mysterious to me. Where does this shit come from? I have no idea, except to say that it’s the culmination of a lifetime of living and reading. As humans, we’re hard-wired to tell and listen to stories, so I think we’re all capable of doing it, at least to some degree.

One thing’s for sure: Our minds are the ultimate playground.