On Fiction Writing

Sometimes I don’t understand why, deep inside me, there is still an impulse to write. Why am I doing it? sometimes it actually doesn’t make sense to me. I always start a lot more poems than the number of poems I actually finish; why, I do not know. Or actually, I do know. To me, inspiration is something which is fleeting as the wind. It comes and goes like the wind. Sometimes I wonder how actual writers, real published authors, overcome this. But maybe they don’t. John Green did just go like, at least 3 years without publishing a book.

A few months ago I decided I sucked at story-writing and almost gave it up completely, but I couldn’t. I always tell people I am primarily a non-fiction writer, which is true, and I wear that self-appointed label like a badge of honor. Why shouldn’t I? These days, all people seem to care about is fiction. And I do love fiction as much as the next person, but I love my essays too much. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a literary narcissist. I spend way too much time writing about my life, my experiences, my joy, my sorrow… I know my life is complicated, and I do like giving myself a voice. But I realize there are others, other people, other problems, other complications in this world. I’m just not necessarily qualified to speak of any of them. And so I know the non-fiction genre, unpopular as it is, has a lot to offer. And it has a special place in my heart. But I still find it quite impossible to give up fiction.

Perhaps it is good that I can’t give up fiction, but it does cause me some issues. I am not confident in my ability to make up and tell a good story. At all. The last time I tried, I came up with eight pages of rambling nonsense. And as we all well know, rambling nonsense is not conductive to telling a good story. At all. My characters are flat and there is generally a glaring absence of plot. But for some reason, despite all of this, there is a tiny voice in my head telling me not to give up.

Well, it’s actually not one voice. It’s voices, plural. I swear there are sometimes characters in my brain clamoring for me to tell their stories. I am not making this up. One, it actually drove me crazy for about two weeks, and I was forced to sit down and take extensive notes on this character and her family. I haven’t started telling her story, yet, though. And I think deep down I fear that if I give up fiction, I will irretrievably lose a part of myself, the part of myself that is a storyteller at heart and loves bouncing story ideas off other people. That has been a part of me since my earliest childhood. Where is the confidence I had, back in fourth grade, back when I thought I could write mystery novel? What happened to the sixth grader who thought she could win short story contests? I admit I’m scared. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of becoming incoherent and messy in my writing again. I hate being messy and incoherent. But what do I do?

For the first time in almost three years, I am writing a story. It may be a short story, it may be a novella, it may be a novel. Who knows? But the effort counts. I am not saying I haven’t written fiction in 3 years. I am saying that I haven’t done it for myself, with passion, with actual belief in what I am doing and the story I am trying to tell, in 3 years. It’s a lot. With that time gap my adventurous self is returning. I am trying new genres; I’m experimenting. I’m going all out. I don’t hate writing fiction. I’m trying to regain the confidence to be able to look past my shitty first drafts, the confidence to even begin those drafts. I hope I find it again, because deep inside, I miss my inner novelist.

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