Do you ever just feel quiet? For someone who has too much to say most of the time, I go through periods (a few days or a few weeks) where I need to be quiet. Minimal phone, internet, writing, talking. Just quiet. Often, these quiet spells precede a productive writing time, so if I don’t let it morph into self indulgent and mopey, I’ve become ok with this side of myself.
When I’m done being quiet, I want stories. I like hearing them, telling them, watching them on tv. I loved the way my grandma called the daytime soaps “stories.” Not too many soaps left anymore. I think about the soap stars I used to pass on the street regularly when I was picking Man Child up from elementary school, and they’d be on their way home from work. What are they doing now? It seems like the Housewives franchise has taken over the soap slots. Not in time period, but in the need they fill for the viewer. Bad behavior, some over the top Mrs Thurston Howell III accents, weddings, divorces, torrid love affairs, fabulous clothes….Fun. I enjoy them without reservation, and yes, I’m rooting for Theresa.
I woke up today thinking about a short story I wrote years ago. More than thinking about it, I had to find it, print it, hold it in my hands, read it, and begin tearing it apart and reconstructing. I’ve lost and discarded plenty of writing over the years; poetry, stories, aborted attempts and poor execution. Some I saved because they represent something I may want to revisit later, or have a line or description I like, if nothing else. I knew I had to have this one somewhere. Two file drawers and three flash drives later (Hey Nerd Child, I found your flash drive!), I located it. I suspect I flipped past it earlier in the day, but since the working title is “Title Here” (clever, hmm?), I probably clicked right on past. I suck at titles, always leave them for last, sometimes only bothering if and when I’m going to submit a piece.
This story, I like the opening. Where the opening leads, oof! Lucky for me, there’s plenty of little edits and corrections to make while I decide where it should go, how to reshape. I enjoy those little edits, slashing all those extra “thats” and ugly adverbs. These give me time and head space to really think about what I’m saying and why. Is it necessary? Of course, here lies the danger of self editing and reflection, how quickly the questioning of a word, phrase, or scene can turn to questioning the necessity of the story.
Why do I do this? I think it’s a mental detour, to see if I really need and want to finish the work. Maybe I’m not sure I’m sponge worthy. Cause what else would pop into my head other than a show that was scripted to be about absolutely nothing–certainly no necessary moral story– that was absolutely brilliant? Because fiction tells our stories. All of them, and all of us.