And so, a story is consigned to the circular file…

Posted on | August 28, 2009

It’s sad when a story dies.

All this week, I’ve been working on a story called Musicians With Instruments. MWI was going to be two love stories, a critique of (some) feminist attitudes, another critique of pomo sociology (and its interface with some feminist writings) and a showcase for the kind of passive-aggressive behavior that ultimately blew up in my face between me and my ex. (You know, writers do that sort of thing all the time.)

That’s just too much for one story, especially one of only 10,000 words, to carry. More to the point, the outpouring of anger I had at my own detonated relationship has long since abated into a kind of low, ongoing frustration. It wasn’t fun to revisit those times, and as I wrote I realized they weren’t advancing the new love between Jacie and Riijyan, nor were they advancing Jacie’s rediscovery of her love of music. The feminist critique thing also began to fall by the wayside, as it didn’t present enough conflict.

As I saw it, this story wanted a re-write. I needed to back up and revisit the questions: What do the protagonists want? What stops them from getting what they want? What do they do to overcome those obstacles? What missteps put them further away from their goal, and present them with further barriers?

And then I plotted it out: Jacie starts off with the nagging sensation that there’s something vaguely wrong with her relationship, and she wants it resolved. Upon meeting Riijyan, she realizes that what’s wrong is that her lover has slowly been separating her from everything else she used to love, and everything else her lover said she loved about her. Jacie has to struggle with her own reluctance to face change– especially when her lover has dragged her several thousand light-years and then isolated her in a sociological ghetto– and find a happier existence. Somewhere along the way she re-discovers physical desire and leaps, with both feet, into Riijyan’s gleeful arms. Except, it turns out, Riijyan’s not that kind of girl.

That’s a pretty sucky story. Bear with me: that’s the kind of crap we put our own lives through. I love modern lit, but of the Jonathan Carrol kind, with strange, numinous experiences. I have no desire to clutter my work with more semi-chick-lit semi-memoir crap. And so, after 10,000 words, a story dies.

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