Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wait, That Cant be Right

 Alternate title: "In a Sunken Short Story Folder, Great Fiction Lies Dreaming."

I recently dragged two stories from the various crevices of my laptop they'd managed to get themselves wedged in. One I began writing in fall of 2009. Feels weird to think it's that old, and it;s funny how so much time away from a story can change it for you. I hadn't taken a look since early 2010. Probably January of that year. Somehow I'd deceived myself into thinking that the piece was about 20,000 words. Turns out it's only about 12. Thousand.

I think I would have remembered if it'd been only twelve.

(Note to self: write twelve-word short story.)

So while I'd initially thought I might be able to expand it into a novel, I'm thinking a lot less ambitiously now. A novella isn't likely out of the realm of possibility. I guess we'll have to see.

A few months ago I got an email from a creative writing professor I've kept up with since my salad days (literally. The lines for the caf salad bar were generally a lot shorter and easier to get through.) in the leafy pastures of UMass Boston. She was looking into a story I wrote for a course/workshop in 2009, wondering if I'd be willing to edit it and shop it out to a local lit mag. Man, that story. I remember being so nervous that I was shaking when it was read aloud. But the feedback afterward was amazing. Hoo boy. One classmate ended his comments with "Fuck and shit, Nick. Fuck and shit." Apparently it made an impression.

I think even at the time I realized that it was a sort of proto-story. That is, for any merits it might have had, it had as many defects. It was still something a novice made. Think of that karaoke roundup you went to where you and your friends were all slamming back margaritas, and everyone on stage sucked, and then that one guy who's not ugly but doesn't approach attractive comes on and wows everyone and at the end of the night you've bought him a drink because wow! And when he goes back to his table, people nearby are telling him he should get a record deal. But you know in your heart of hearts that it's not like he's as good as [CURRENT POPULAR MUSICIAN], he's a talented amateur. Side by side with [CURRENT POPULAR MUSICIAN]? guy in the karaoke bar would be completely dismissed.

I don't want to say the story was good because that's not for me to judge and is entirely subjective. It was polished, I guess. A little more detailed than the wood it was being whittled from. I read through it yesterday and today it makes me think of a hinge. I didn't write a better story than that all through my college career, there are little bits of it that sparkle, and yet overall it feels really crude by comparison to the things I'm writing now. The last and best of the early stuff, but wooden and simple by what came after.

In short, I picked up that story thinking I could edit it and get it into shape to send off to the big leagues. Now I'm thinking a complete rewrite is in order. It'll be interesting to see a how [REMAKE OF OLD STORY] compares to creative fiction written in college.

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