Chuck Wendig recently wrote a post entitled “Ten Things I’d Like to Say to Young Writers“, and his tenth point in that essay was, basically, finish what you start.
I’ve been writing since I was thirteen years old, but I never finished anything. I wrote pages and pages of text, but no complete stories. I managed to convince myself along the way that I was unable to create plots for stories, that my brain was linear and just didn’t function in the necessary way.
As a result, my ability to create readable prose grew steadily, but my ability to write a story remained weak and stunted.
On the plus side, however, I now understand that the problem isn’t that I am physically unable to do it, it’s that I never learned how. And that is a problem I can work with.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last months lurking on writing blogs. One of them belongs to the aforementioned Chuck Wendig, a published author of books, comic books and video games, and the other belongs to Jodie Llewellyn, who is an aspiring writer like myself. Both blogs discuss the craft of writing in some detail, from differing points of view.
On both sites, there has been a recent post that brought writers, aspiring and not, out of the woodwork in droves to discuss the current state of their own writings. And it seems like everyone and their cousin is smack in the middle of writing a full-length book.
I kind of feel left out in discussions like that. As though the novel is a rite of passage all writers must experience. And I know that it’s something I will want to tackle eventually. But at the moment, I’m not ready.
I’m still slogging my way up the learning curve, and short stories are my mile markers at the moment. In the last month or so, I’ve finished two short fiction stories. That’s a big accomplishment in my world. I got to feel that success, and take encouragement from it.
And short stories allow me to go through the cycle of plotting and writing on a much quicker time frame. It gives me the practice that I need in terms of the nuts and bolts of storytelling.
The fact that all these very logical points also cater to my absolute phobia of commitment is a complete coincidence…