Telling Stories

Quiet Please

Quiet Please (Photo credit: bixentro)

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.

AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) benefit, Los A...

AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) benefit, Los Angeles- Sept. 1990- She played Mrs. Howell on Gilligan’s Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

red pen

red pen (Photo credit: Mad African!: (Broken Sword))

 

 

14 comments

  1. I am exactly like that. I need to close in on myself, to journey inwards. I say to my hubby I can hardly cope with myself right now. do not touch me. poor long suffering fellow. it lasts a day or so or is intermittent. The only way is to celebrate that part of you and follow it where it needs to take you.
    As for the editing, second guessing and deciding some writing is too terrible when once I thought it was good is me all over too. I will edit it into nonexistence and wander off disgruntled. I think the thought of presenting it to some faceless critic is what does me in. self publishing might get me writing one day. I will let the reader decide. and if they discard it, it can become just another collection of pixels.

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    1. I suspect many writers and artists follow similar patterns. It’s a process, and that reflective time is as much a part of it as fingers to keyboard. 🙂 Sometimes you really *know* a piece needs to be completely revamped. I find it best to put it away for a long time, takes the sting out of killing those babies. 😉 Other edits, it isn’t as clear. I keep the multiple versions of full length manuscripts, cause ya never know. The process and angst of submitting does get easier the more you do it. Face to face pitches, though, always nerve wracking.

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  2. I can relate to the need for some quiet time. It is a MUST for me. I come out of these periods refreshed, full of energy, and with a ‘go- for – it’ frame of mind.
    As for the self editing……. This is a curse for me as i foolishly save each version and have to go through the process of choosing which of the versions is best.

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    1. LOL, I said something very similar to another poster, earlier. I have several versions of each of my full length manuscripts. I like to think of it as prudent. 😉

      Thanks for joining in and commenting!

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  3. I am not someone who sees herself as a “writer” but one of the things I am finding myself enjoying the most about blogging is fulfilling my endless need to edit. Rephrasing, culling words, trying to make it really say what I want it to say- something I can’t always do effectively in real life. Some of my posts look very different now than they did the first time around, a few feature different photos. (I sure hope my followers don’t get notified with every edit! :0 I never thought of that!)

    There are times I turn inward as well, though again, my reasons are a bit different. Sometimes it’s restorative and good and helps me focus myself, but that is only when it’s in moderation. Too long and it becomes very counterproductive.

    I used to write endless stories when I was a kid; some of them with my best friend at the time in school. I still remember the main storyline of some of them. And I still haven’t forgiven my 6th grade teacher for throwing a heap of them out when she “took care” of my stuff when I was absent on Desk Cleaning Day.

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    1. Nope, we don’t get notified of every edit 😀 I think you enjoy editing more than I do, but I do find comfort and motivation from it.
      Yes, being quiet, turning inward, is just another line that needs to be straddled. Sometimes it takes me too long to come back.

      Aww, I can imagine your face, indignant and horrified, coming back to school to discover your desk had been cleaned for you. I remember very little of what I wrote as a child, though I remember doing a lot of writing. It’s only now, reading your post, that it occurs to me I didn’t come across any childhood writings as I went through my mother’s apartment, either.

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      1. Would you believe the Empress came home with a story today? The first of the year. I just found it digging through about 40 papers jammed in her take home folder. It’s wonderful. 🙂 At least her teacher won’t be throwing away her work.

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      1. I get that way too sometimes. For me there is a bit of sadness associated with it-usually I don’t even know why, but I know, even while it’s happening, that it is always a good thing when it has run its course.

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