Well, stupidly, I thought I could write something of substance. Ha. Here’s what I wrote:
“I don’t have time for bestiality,” Mr. Warble said.
“Noted,” replied Ms. Eye Drop.
It was the dead of winter. The trees felt like crying but were too cold to do anything but sigh. In a distant land, someone invented love. In a distant time, someone invented death.
I sang into an unplugged microphone, something about leftover dreams and dust.
Raymond Chandler, it ain’t. I love Chandler, by the way, but that’s neither here nor there. I could just as easily say, “I love Stephen King” (which is true) or Stevie Smith (also true).
The thing is, I know my writing voice. I have a distinct poetic voice and a less distinct fiction writing voice. I suppose that’s because I haven’t spent as much time developing my fiction writing…except I have. It just seems like I haven’t. But I wrote fiction almost constantly from the age of 16-33. I wrote five books, two of which are half-way decent. I have an untold number of stories, both finished and unfinished. I’m quite familiar with the craft of writing fiction; I’m just not as good at fiction as I am with poetry.
Why’s that such a problem? It shouldn’t be. You don’t see Joyce Carol Oates lamenting that she’s not as prolific a poet as she is a fiction author. The inimitable Billy Collins does not, to my knowledge, rail out against the Writing Gods that he doesn’t write killer short stories. He’s a poet, and a damn good one. Why not be content with my gifts, such as they are, and let it go at that?
Because I want to be good at fiction. Though If I’m honest, my fiction writing voice is the same as my stream-of-consciousness voice, and I’ve apparently decided that isn’t good. Ever since I began scribbling in journals and typing away at an electric typewriter, I’ve been most comfortable letting the words just flow. That method works well for poetry and sometimes as an idea-generator, but it doesn’t make for compelling fiction. It makes for weird and confusing passages, and while they often make me laugh, I’m afraid others would have a hard time getting through them. “Okay, that’s just a waste of time,” I imagine folks saying. “What the hell’s wrong with him? This isn’t a story! This is just nonsense!”
I’ve never posted or shared in any form my real writing… the immediate, fiery words that erupt out of me and go in so many strange directions. Again: why is this bothering me so much?
And no, that isn’t me. Well, it is, but heavily edited with FaceApp because it makes me laugh as much as it horrifies my wife.
You may see some freewriting over the next few days. and it will be strange. Stay tuned…or stay away.