Been thinking a bit on new directions I’m planning to take with my own writing. Spending twelve hours at a writers event makes you do that. Again. But sometimes it helps with planning and seeing things a bit more clearly than just it’s good or it sucks.
I never thought I would have bothered with the short story format, and yet that’s been the overwhelming bulk of my creative output for the last five years. While I don’t intend to give it up, I think it’s coming closer to establishing its own voice(s), and I just need better story to feel more comfortable with it.
At the writers festival I listened to a few hours of poetry readings. Some were okay, some were great–in my opinion. I stood ready to fill in if necessary just so there wouldn’t be a lull in the program, and had brought some short prose and some of my poems. I’d always felt confident in my poetry–despite what anyone else said and despite lack of encouragement. Yet I’d always felt not so great about my story writing, and was encouraged in this form. After listening to some of the poetry readings, I quickly scanned through the few pages I’d brought, and suddenly, they all seemed horridly amateurish and uninteresting.
Wow. I felt like I’d been hit with a bolt of lightning, but in a bad way. Surreptiously I snuck the pages back into my bag, and when needed, went up to the microphone with some quickies I’d written in prose form. They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but that night it did. I realized why my poetry wasn’t good. Not that it’s all that bad, but it’s just not good enough.
That second bolt that hit left me this revelation: I’m more discerning and unforgiving of my fiction because I know good from bad, right from wrong, outstanding from mediocre; I know the elements and how to play them–whether I always do or not, I know what should be done. With poetry, I simply don’t. So that’s why I haven’t been able to figure out the decided lack of response to my poetry, I thought it was good because I didn’t know what was missing, what was different about it that made it barely there.
I still don’t know exactly what to call it, but I think it has something to do with voice and depth; over and above using symbolism and metaphor and pretty language to cover it all in clouds and shrouds of non-emotion. Again, I don’t intend to stop writing poetry,nor will I suddently sprout stanzas that will twitch your mind and heart; poetry has helped me tremendously in story writing. If I keep at it, it may improve both mediums.
But yet another direction that I’ve been blathering about and am finally ready to dig into: Flash and hypertext fiction. Pseudohypertext was a start; using my usual method of learning in applying the new to the old to understand it more fully. Now, I’m ready to have a go at it. The technological aspects of learning the software will not detract from the process, as not only is it a highly creative process in itself, if I use the story group I already have plotted out in pseudo form, it doesn’t disturb the story, and could only enhance it with changes made to suit the format. In other words, I’m not merely rewriting for story, plot, language, but as as well for sound, visual image, and cohesion above the already in-place plot line.
I’m psyched. Or maybe psycho. I forgot which.