The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fed Up With All The Misery

We’re always looking for conflict in our stories. Always conflict. How I got into Cezanne’s Carrot, a journal running on the solstice schedule, which prides itself on all things hopeful, spiritual, I’ll never know. As a writer, I’m a miserable person, always with the misery. Oy. In real life, I’m a happy-go-lucky (whatever that means) kind of guy, a pleasant drunk, eager to help out whenever I can. I’m a great listener when I want. But as a writer—holey crap, I’m miserable. The people closest to me have come to accept that this is the way I write. They don’t look for alternate endings. They read and comment accordingly. They expect that brick wall to show up eventually. Do they enjoy the read? Who knows? My wife does, I think, but then, she’s my best reader, my closest reader -- the one person I know will get the gist. She’s had a lot of practice, though, poor thing. But you know what I’m starting to think? Cezanne’s Carrot is onto something good. The best stories have open endings, they grab the readers by the back of the neck, and pull them in, force them to think about the way they’d like to see the story end. You can guide the reader right through to the finish, if you want, or you can give up some of the power. You can say, “I think this is a remarkable story to tell, that unfolded in such and such a way – don’t you think?” It’s what we do. We put down on paper those experiences and events we think are worth sharing, but then we have to give it up to the reader's interpretations. If I’ve done my job right, I’ve got you by the balls from the first paragraph, and by the end, we’re telling the story together.


Blogger tamara said...

I can understand your frustration with the misery, Tony. It gets to me too, sometimes. That's usually when I take a break.

Jonathon Safran Foer, who writes lovely and amusing and conflicted stuff, yet said this in a interview: "The idea of enjoying writing something is foreign to me. I enjoy having written things. Someone once said that writing is like pulling teeth... out of your penis." (

Thu Nov 23, 01:11:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

This is one reason I enjoy reading your writing, Tony. Your talent for getting into the dark and dirty guarrantees a adventure every time. This is something I do not do well at all, too scared perhaps. In fact I probably don't belong in this conversation. Expressing miserable and dramatic conflict is my problem. I'm always writing to cheer myself up, searching for the silver lining. And I've yet to get into CC. Ho hum.

Thu Nov 23, 01:21:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Yah, breaks are important, Tamara, especially when you've been pulling stories out of your penis. Thanks for the link! Jen, gimme a break! You write like most people wish they could write(this stumblebum, for example!). You've got finesse to spare, big time.

Fri Nov 24, 08:29:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

congrats Tony, I love CC, not sure about the penis thing, but well, I'm not a guy!!! congrats on a well deserved pub..xoxo

Fri Nov 24, 01:02:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Hey, congrats, Tony! When is your story appearing? I see our friend Craig is in the current issue.

I like misery. It's more interesting to write about. I like open endings, too.

Tue Nov 28, 09:17:00 pm GMT-5  

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