Good Stories Come to Those Who Wait
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Okay, folks. Listen up. It’s going to be a while till I can announce that I will self-publish my next story. I’m trying to develop an idea I’ve had in my head for a while now, but worldbuilding and inventing characters – well, they can’t be done with a snap of a finger or a twitch of my nose.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
As much as I want to start on my next story – I “sort-of” tried the “write the opening scene as a screenplay” trick but ended up with a headache rather than a memorable (or usable) opening line – I needed to take a break from the story. I woke up much too early for my taste, and between that and several hours’ worth of sitting here trying to produce one good paragraph, I’m tired, cranky, and vexed.
I’ve been writing – mostly non-fiction stuff – since I was a young boy, so I know that trying to “brute-force” good material from my brain down to my fingers and onto the page (or computer monitor) is usually a fool’s errand. Even when I was studying journalism at what was then named Miami-Dade Community College – South Campus in my 20s, I sometimes had a hard time writing good, usable copy on a tight schedule. But because I dealt with facts and quotes and all kinds of “real” stuff for a student newspaper, I never had to use my imagination to create characters or invent dialogue.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Writing make-believe stories, even those that are, at least in part, based on my life experiences and places that I know, is hard. Harder than anyone imagines, in fact. I have to create people and places that don’t exist, have them interact with each other and their environment in ways that are simultaneously true to life and artificial, and in such a way that conveys an idea or emotion that reveals something about the human experience.
Storytelling is not an easy profession. It makes a lot of demands on the writer. I devote at least eight hours a day – sometimes more – to the craft of writing. Most of my efforts – at least since 2014, when eBay-owned Epinions was shut down – have been devoted to blogging. Mostly for myself, although I did take a gig as a contributor to a blog for the website Cerebral Palsy Guidance for a time. I currently write two blogs; the original A Certain Point of View on Google-owned Blogger, and this blog on WordPress.
I tell stories here, too, but because they’re non-fiction, I don’t have to imagine men, women, or children that never existed, nor do I make up quotes that those individuals never uttered. Oh, of course, if a conversation took place, say, in 1972 I might be paraphrasing or rewording what was said at the time; my memory, after all, does not digitize the things that Mom said to me when I was nine years old and replay them verbatim. But the truth of what was said, and especially the emotional context of the words in the posts I’ve written about my past…those are real, even if the details are inexact and even vague at times.
Writing fiction? That’s something else. Cos even when I’m writing a story – such as Reunion – that is based on places I know, people I met when I was younger, and events that really occurred, I have to use my imagination and, using “concrete details” and other tools of the writer’s trade, build a world in which my characters live, love, laugh, cry, and even die.
This, my friend, is not easy. It requires demanding work and lots of it. As the late Ernest Hemingway once wryly observed, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
(In my case, change “typewriter” to “wireless computer keyboard,” but otherwise….)
“I hope to someday write something worth plagiarizing.” – Unknown Author
I seriously do not want to be a “one-book author” (I can’t honestly claim that Reunion is a “hit”!), so I must write more stories. I want to write more stories, too.
But I want to tell those stories well, and I don’t want to kill myself from stress and overwork in the process. So, please, bear with me while I am doing the whole “worldbuilding” and storytelling thing. It’s going to be a while till I can say, “Look! My next story is available on Amazon!”
But if I work hard and do my best, my next project will be worth the wait.
 It’s now Miami-Dade College – Kendall Campus. The College changed the campus’ name not long after I dropped out of college in 1990 because when the Homestead Campus was finished and opened its doors to students and faculty, South Campus was no longer the southernmost of the then-five campuses. And in 2003, the same year that the College started offering four-year degrees in selected fields of study, the Florida Legislature okayed the dropping of the word “Community,” reflecting the school’s new status as a four-year academic institution.
6 thoughts on “On Writing & Storytelling: Good Stories Come to Those Who Wait”
The Amazon page for the paperback is still showing the old cover. You remember I bought the paperback but got the old version. I was thinking that maybe once the cover switched to the new cover then the book was ready, So I keep waiting, but it is still the old cover. I certainly see the new one on Barnes and Noble. Could something be wrong?
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All new copies of the book come with the new cover. It takes Amazon a long time to change the metadata on updated products. If the MSRP is $7.99 on the paperback, it’s the new edition.
I paid $7.99 and I got the old version. I promise that’s not a complaint but a concern that the changes may not have taken effect everywhere. There are different print shops and the print shop that printed my last purchase is in Coppell, Texas. I think I will wait one more day before trying again.
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Okay. I wish Amazon would get its act together! My copy was printed in Orlando, Florida. (No Mickey Mousing with my book there!)
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I even find that with reviews – it either flows or it doesn’t. You can’t force it.
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Here’s what I know will happen. Some day (I hope sooner rather than later), I’ll be sitting here, listening to music, and a particular piece of music will “trigger” the opening line.
That’s how the 1998 version of Reunion “happened.” Well, that, plus I’d just read the obit of a classmate, PLUS I was not thrilled that the 15-year reunion was so pricey that I could not afford to attend. (Same as this year’s 40th! I can’t go…ugh!) So many elements had to come together to form…a perfect storm…er, story.
Of course, it helped that I had an old college creative writing exercise handy….(The section called “Journey’s End” was derived from it. Except for the dream part…in the college-era version it was more erotic.)
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