The Progress of a Story: Doubts
I can’t remember why I started writing this story. It seems ill-formed and meaningless. A complete mess about nothing much. Concurrently with writing this pathetic waste of computer disc space, I am working my way through Bill Gaston’s Gargoyles, a collection so varied and consistently excellent it has me thinking that the greatest service I can do for literature is to move into Bill’s house and take care of his lawn, do his laundry, etc… so that he’ll have more time to write.
Bill’s stories are focused and poignant. I can’t believe that even in first draft they were ever as crappy as the story I’m working on.
I cannot remember thinking this negatively about any of the stories I have finished and published. I can, however, remember thinking like this about all of the stories I have aborted mid-construction. Did I just push through with the other ones, the ones that got finished? And after their glorious completion and joyful publishing did I blissfully block out the period when my confidence flagged? They say if you truly remembered labour pains there would be no second children. They say a lot of things.
I don’t want to give up though. This year, several after his death, I have learned to love my father. There’s a wealth of fresh feeling that I want to give artistic expression to. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to write a story more. But today, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just get Bill Gaston to write it for me.
And then it occurs to me, maybe I should try to write a story my father would like, not one that’s about his doubts. Like most men, my father liked action movies- for his generation that meant War Movies. He had been in the navy and seen battle in Korea. If my father were to choose an event from his life to write about, it wouldn’t be the one I’ve picked- where he escapes from one demanding family only to land in another. He would pick a time when he was the hero of his own life. Doubts suck. Send in the heroes.