Thank God. 2014 is the year I can stop including “write short fiction” in my New Year’s Resolutions, because I finally committed to taking a class. I might have taken a how-to book out of the library, or just jumped in on my own but we know where that leads – to resolving to “write short fiction” for three years in a row. (I checked the archives).
The class ran from January through March and I hated every minute of it. Or as I wrote to Leeanne in an e-mail, “I effing can’t seem to stand writing short fiction, much to my surprise.”
This discovery was a disappointment to me. Frankly, I have always imagined that all of this writing business was eventually going to lead me to fiction. I am honestly not sure if I could have suffered through it if Joolie hadn’t been simultaneously doing a short fiction workshop of her own and cheering me on from Austin. In fact, I even tried to get out of the class but it was too late to get a refund so I grudgingly carried on.
Anyway, even though I handed all but the final assignment in late and was, at one point, six assignments behind, I finished that damn course. Fortunately, the goal of the class was not to create a polished story ready for submission, just a finished rough draft that we could continue to work through and shine up when the class was over. I can’t say that I’m satisfied with the draft I produced, but I didn’t give up and I feel good about that. I am not exactly known for sticking with things I’m not immediately good at.
I had two big problems with writing short fiction. First, I found it very difficult to just make stuff up. I really, really resisted it. Second, I realized that I just totally get off on real-life stories. There’s so much crazy shit out there to write about – wow – why do I need to make it up? On the other hand, I often come across little bits of news and life that I can’t do much with in terms of non-fiction but that could be something really cool in a short story. It did get easier when I stopped thinking so much about it and forced myself to just GO. Maybe all the stuff I learned just needs to percolate for awhile; I’m still hopeful that there’s some short fiction in me.
In the end, I based my story on real events and the protagonist on myself and I’ll leave you with a comment from my instructor. I can’t decide if I fictionalized myself very well, or should have tried harder to disguise myself!
In a sense, she seems fanciful, someone who likes to fantasize.