Saturday, February 14, 2015

Farewell My Pretty

For me there always comes a thankful moment when the final, final, absolutely (and I mean it, this time!) FINAL draft of a sort story is done and it is loosed to the winds of fate where the vagaries of editorial choice will determine whether it lives or dies.

I know not what other writers might feel at that moment of release, but for me the act of letting go is accompanied by an emotional combination of hope and sorrow:  Hope that the piece might resonate intellectually or emotionally with whoever encounters it and sorrow that I must bid farewell to yet another imagined and narrowly constricted world. There is also a poignant sadness in seeing that a story's probability wave that was once filled with endless possibilities has collapsed into the concrete reality of a finished tale where all the characters have been defined, their compass defined, and their fates predetermined.

As a short story writer I am seldom tempted to return to the worlds I've created, but instead am ever on the search for others that, I am always certain, will prove even more interesting. I enter each new draft as if stepping onto the shoreline shelf of a new continent brimming with promise. In the rush of creation I head into the wilderness, blazing trails and trying to discover the scope and scale of the place before I ever begin to populate it.

As I bring each character into this new world they become imbued with assumptions and develop a role.  As they are moved about I begin to get a sense of place, time, and relationships.  With the introduction of every additional character the interactions of characters and plots begin to create complex pathways lined with subtle undercurrents.  The options of the protagonist's activities becomes ever more constrained at each decision point.  Finally the path he/she follows leads to some sort of epiphany and, later, a denouement.  After multiple bouts of editing my new continent is no longer unknown territory, but has shrunken to a lightly populated village of whom we only know a few citizens.  Once that tale is released to the winds, the bright promise of its new world fades and I start to wonder what might be revealed just over the horizon?

What rough beasts lurk there in wait for my arrival?


1 comment:

  1. When I finish a story or book, I go through post partum depression, unless I have another ready to work on immediately. Your description of the creative experience pinpoints specifically why. That "rush of creation" is a wild ride filled with wonder (and fearsome things lurking in the dark). How could we not want to get right back onto the rollercoaster, even if there's a long line before the real ride begins?


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