As the ideas for various ongoing stories sit in my head, brewing over a slow fire, I have started working on another one to occupy my free time. It’s about two lovers who can only meet in their dreams.
It’s tentatively titled “Dreamcatcher”.
I spent a while struggling with the story. The concept was solid. I should be able to capture the beginning perfectly. But try as I might, I couldn’t make it to the 2nd sentence. The starting of the story was just wrong, wrong, wrong. There was something amiss, and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
The thing about writing stories is, as Mr. Gaiman so eloquently puts it, that you’ll never know how it is going to turn out in the end. Like baking a cake. Sometimes it won’t rise no matter what you do, and sometimes it turns out better than anything you dared to hope for.
I suppose story ideas are also like firewood. Some of them catch fire at the first spark, and some of them are just damp to the core. Suppose after so many years, we should have come up with a more scientific approach to this impossible craft beyond the analysis of characters and structures, but we haven’t.
Anyone who feels inclined to take up something artistic as a hobby shouldn’t write. They should aspire to bake, or sew, or even compose. Those things, at least, have a certain mathematical quality to their approach. Leave writing to those poor souls who cannot help but write, for their very purpose of existence hinges upon the act.
The thing about writing, if I could draw parallels between it and cooking, is that it’s like trying to come up with a brand new dish each time. Because it’s art, dammit, and woe to whomever who does something that has already been done. If we wanted Strawberry Cheesecake, we would’ve gotten it from the one who makes Strawberry Cheesecake – now give us something that only you can give, and make sure it’s damn good!
We’re at least lucky enough that story ideas are nowhere as expensive as food ingredients. Well, unless you’re an agent or a producer. In which case, story ideas are very expensive indeed.
We all try to make good cheesecake. Unless we don’t make cheesecake. Maybe pies. In which case, we try to make good pie. The eminent Mr. King describes his style of writing as “making salami”. He, too, endeavors to make good salami.
(here my cursor wandered over to the “settings” tab on the left side of the “add new post” page, and the 6th subtab reads “Protest NSA Surveillance”. I wonder if the NSA knows about this)
Wonder if I should leave the story titled Dreamcatcher for another day, the wise words of Mr. Gaiman came to me: reminding me that stories must be told how they like to be told.
Such divas, aren’t they?
And so I switched the narrator’s voice over to the first person, and all of a sudden I have 200 words already.
Strange creatures, these stories. I hope one day we might come to understand them better, in all their fullness. Though I suspect we never will.