On Not Writing

I have been bogged down in my short story course all year. The stories I thought up just refused to be written, even when I liked my ideas. One in particular featured a couple of characters I found appealing, a setting I liked, Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula (I recommend a visit to the castle as well as the rest of the peninsula if you’re ever in Dunedin), fog, overheard threats, a frantic chase through the castle, a bit of violence and sexual jealousy, the phrase “look, the fog’s lifted,” said at just the crucial moment, and if I’d been keen (and had the space), some historical parallels to deepen the plot. I found it easy to tell myself the story and I’m sorry that I don’t get to finish it.

But when I tried to write it, it just fell apart around me. I couldn’t seem to get my characters out of the fog and into the castle. And there was no oomph in the writing at all.

I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I knew too much about it and the story telling impulse dried up as a result. I’m not an outliner. I’m more of a strap yourself in and see what happens composer. So it’s possible that I ruined it by planning it out too carefully in my head before I sat down to write.

It’s also possible that a short story is the wrong format for it. Maybe it wants to be something longer and more detailed.

I’ll file it away for future reference. And one day, maybe I’ll get to write it.

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