Saturday, August 06, 2005

Stories that Die

Since I read the call for submissions back in April, I struggled to create a story for the Garden of the Perverse anthology.

The story had to be like a fairy tale with some kind of moral. I immediately thought of a good moral. I tried to work back from it to fill in the story. And tried. And tried.

I had characters, setting, moral, but couldn't make those elements align like cherries across the screen of a slot machine. No pay-off. Sigh.

By mid-May, since nothing else worked, I told myself that I couldn't work on it for three weeks. Usually when I self-impose a writing ban, by the time it elapses, I'm more than ready to get back to it. I may say that I'm not working on a story, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about it. Besides, in Mid-May, I went to Saints and Sinners writer's conference and expected to come back to my computer energized and ready to write. (If you're a GBLT writer, go next year. I had an incredible time.)

End of May-- no story.

I write every day. Meaning physically typing. I put in at least two hours a day, seven days a week in front of my computer, and usually more on the weekends. So I was writing, but editing my novel, not on the submission for Garden of the Perverse.

End of June-- no story.

I tried. It simply wouldn't come to me.

I finally had to admit that the story would not work. Damn. I loved that moral. I loved the characters. But the more I forced it, the worse the crap that I wrote. I finally had to face the horrible truth. I had to let it go.

Death of a story. Copious weeping and gnashing of teeth. Ashes and sackcloth.

Mid-July -- every day, I go to Wikipedia and pull up about ten random pages. As I'm flipping through, the subject on a page catches my eye as a great title. I read the article. By the time I'm at the end of the entry, I have my story. (Different moral, different characters, different setting.)

Some stories have to be sacrificed. They have to be set aside, shunned, ignored, and allowed to die. It isn't easy. I still have hopes that one day at least my characters will be revived. I was very fond of them. I invested a lot of imagination in that tale, but it was DOA, and letting go was the right decision, even though it wasn't easy.


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