Posted by: oneyearbook | October 29, 2009

On target

Over at MFA Confidential, Kate has a post that expresses, more aptly than I did in my post about the short story assignment, why I needed to drop the story I was working on and write something completely new on Thursday.

She says, “A mentor once said to me: ‘Never write a story you don’t want to be writing.’ This seems simple enough, but sometimes we think we do want to be writing a particular story.  We’re sure it’s a great idea, a great concept. And so we pursue it. But the question is: should we pursue ideas or should we let them pursue us?” Unfortunately for her, she has a particular assignment that she needs to finish for the next day, so in some senses, she does have to write something she doesn’t want to be writing.

I totally recognize what she says about having five “half-baked” stories in her files, full of so-called good ideas – I have so many of those, bits where I’ve gotten the first page or so done and then just stared at the page and thought, okay, this is where this will go … and then I get up to stretch, or have tea, and nothing ever happens again with those stories. I need to get better at recognizing when something isn’t going somewhere – and also when I, myself, am somehow keeping it from going in a direction that really might click.

And maybe better about deleting those scraps, and not continually thinking that something will come of them.

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