Sunday, November 06, 2011

I'm Beginning To Think About Writing Again

I'm not just thinking about my own writing. I'm thinking about other writers' writing. Perhaps I'm thinking about writing in a global sort of way. (I was thinking about the word global today, too.)

A couple of days ago I finished reading a book of short stories that had sat in my To Read heap for a few years. It was written by an author I've liked in the past. His work has always been very elegant and witty.

Now, some authorities on the short story will tell you that a short story should show some kind of change in the protagonist. In the past I haven't always been a big fan of that theory. I've liked writing what I called "slice-of-life" stories. They would often be more like studies of a character or a situation rather than about something happening to someone as Rust Hills says in Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular. They rarely sold.

Well, in the book I was reading, the author's writing was, as usual, elegant and witty. But story after story left me feeling that there was no story there. Lots of character. Lots of situation. Lots of not much point. And a lot of the reason that there wasn't much point, I think, was that even when something happened to the protoganist (always a middle aged man in the throes of some kind of angst), it didn't change him.

As a result of this reading experience, I'm going to have to rethink years of work sitting gathering dust in my cellar.

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