Wednesday, July 11, 2007

If a Story Falls in the Woods...

What if you wrote a story and nobody read it? Would it be a failure? Would it be as if it never existed? Would there be a difference between offering it to the world only to have it ignored and keeping it in a desk drawer? Does art exist without an audience? Are the (rumored) manuscripts that J.D. Salinger has tucked away in some vault any less real? (An aside: I'd probably wait to publish after I died too if I had to face the unrealistic expectations those stories are going to be burdened with.) What about those bottom-drawer novels writers accumulate, are they different since they are essentially writing excercises?

I know that one defense mechanism for writers is an exaggerated sense of arrogance about their talents. As much as we may have hated the jocks in our lives with their inflated egos, most of us have achieved some level of false pride, if a lot more delicate than those in the sports world. But I think most writers, as well as most other artists, are more inclined to show their fears of rejection and to talk about it. Does that make us any less talented, or does it only strengthen our self worth?

I guess we must always continue our resolve, no matter where we are in our careers. Even writing this post has given me some encouragement. That doesn't mean I'm going out to be an arrogant prick... just enough of one to get by.


pattinase (abbott) said...

For years I kept them in the desk and boy, that didn't nothing for me except protect me from rejection.

Steve Allan said...

But I think there is something in holding off on certain stories. I have a couple that I don't think I'm ready for in terms of maturity and expertise of the language. And these are usually the stories I'm closest to. Maybe there is a sense of fear in having these rejected, or maybe they're crap and subconciously I know they're crap and have the good sense of keeping them in the dark. Who knows?

Lyman said...

I take this concept to the extreme. Highlight. Delete. It's actually inspiring to write a four thousand word story then just delete it.

I find these stories to be the ones that are crap. They kick around my head and I can't seem to develop them. For me they start to clog up the works and if I don't get them out of my head they become major writing constipation. So I type it out, let it free on the screen then kill its ass before I do something foolish like submit it. It clears my mind and I'm able to write something else. Stuff I should be writing.

Trunk stories rarely can be fixed. They may lead to different stories but they can't make it on their own.