I've been writing a lot lately, and have one just about finished. It is supposed to be under two thousand words, though, so I may have to hack and slash, and that sort of thing usually takes as long as it would to write a whole new story. I don't feel too creatively inspired on this one, but I don't know if that matters.
I think I mentioned this the other day, but in the story collection I'm nearly done editing, I discovered that, of the six stories in there, there were really only two stories, told three different ways each. I thought about what it might have been like to be a writer in the 1930s and 40s, when pulp magazines were scooping up stories left and right, and one of these short story writers might well have a guarantee that every story they penned would be purchased. I guess I could see why somebody would take one story, and rework the location and character names, and the details and red herrings, and send it out again and again. I could see doing it myself, I suppose. But it's still a bummer to discover that every overlong piece I read for this collection is either a variation of Story A or Story B. Did the editor of the magazine pick up on this? Did he even care? Maybe he said, "I want a story just like that last one, that was a humdinger!" so he ended up with a variation on it. Did he care about that? How about the readers? Was the bar lower or higher in those days?*
But I tend to tackle the same topics again and again in my writings, because they are the things that either frighten me or fascinate me. Does someone who reads my work say, "But the themes of this story are the same as the other two stories I read by him, and the location was practically identical?" Or am I close to it, so I recognize that stuff when nobody else would?
Imagine if you will, a girl abandoned on a deserted island, say, the only survivor of a shipwreck. No one else is around, but monkeys and wallabies and turtles, but she lives her life the best she can. How can this girl know if she is attractive or not?
I've got two more days to finish this story, then whip it into some kind of shape. I think it's doable.
But first, I'm going to check my Facebook statuses. And watch "Downton Abbey." And maybe install Starcraft on this computer. And what else?
Rish Outfield, Occasional Writer
*Part of me leans toward saying it was lower, since people were "less sophisticated" in those days, but actually, the bar was probably higher. After all, these were people who were paying money to read stories. A novel concept nowadays.