Saturday, November 07, 2009

Going Crazy

I've been submitting short stories. I've also been reading short stories that have been published, cos you know, it's good for me.

I know that I am a lazy writer. I take too long to get started, I leave things for forever while I figure things out, I am way too shy to "bother" people who I need to interview for certain details, and I'd rather scrub the toilets of Grand Central with a toothbrush than edit. Okay, well maybe not that, but I'd certainly rather clean the litter box than edit.

But reading some published short stories makes me want to puke. For real. Okay, I know I didn't get some fancy writing degree from some fancy writer college. No, I am not a graduate of the Iowa City Writer's Group. I did not get my M-freakingFA from Vermont.

I've got inferiority complex to spare. But some of these stories! I can't tell why they were published. I suppose it is a matter of style. Some of them are beautifully written, gorgeous phrasing, the words flowing like silk. But you can't follow the damn plot, you get the characters all confused because there is so much pretty stuff floating around, the people get lost. Where's the beef?

It could be that my writing style is very straightforward, very close to the bone and I don't dress up the ugly in a pretty dress. I understand the mechanics of cleaning up the writing, balancing out the prose and maintaining a properly arching plot line. But I can't write pretty just to be writing pretty.

But I did find some stories that helped. They had the same style as mine - true, bare bones, people dealing with stuff, usually badly, but trying their best. You know, like real people.

Thor sez: I think you should write stories about...uh, these brothers...who are cats...and one is brave and goes outside and hangs out with the raccoon gang and the other is a scaredy cat and they could have adventures!


Mike said...

I'll loan you my copy of McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, edited by Michael Chabon. Short stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Things you'll never see in the New Yorker.

JanetLee said...

Mike - that sounds more my style. Jason took a book off the shelf this morning and started reading it aloud to me. Finnegan's Wake. "But," I said, "I'm convinced that Joyce wrote that with a big fat middle finger waving at the literary snobs. It isn't literature, it is a huge joke."

But then I was educated in SC public schools, what do I know?

Sharon said...

I'd love to read your stories, JanetLee.

Have you ever read Glimmer Train Stories? Sure, sometimes they get all artsy-fartsy, but I really enjoy their choices, by and large.

Hey, Steinbeck didn't go to Iowa, either.

Sharon said...

Oh, and did I mention how impressed I am that you're not only writing the stories, but *submitting them*?

JanetLee said...

Sharon - one of the stories I submitted was for the Glimmer Train's "Family Matters" contest. I have another one, just need to fix one sentence and it will go to them also for the New Writer's contest.

Anonymous said... about a children's book about the adventures of the "boys" with photos of them?????
Pam, South Bend

JanetLee said...

Pam - don't think for a moment that that idea has not been seriously discussed. I already have two plot lines - one involving the raccoon gang and the other a bunny. Instead of pictures, Jason would draw the art - he is a great artist in addition to all his other talents.

jaz said...

For Pete's sake.

There are like 200 artists better qualified to do the art within a stone's throw of here...

JanetLee said...

Jason is a liar, liar pants on fire!

Sharon said...

Good luck with Glimmer Train, JanetLee!

What about writing about Thor and Loki and the frog?