Do you ever how those ideas that grab you by the neck and turn your life upside-down? That permeate everything you think, or sleep, or eat, or breathe?
I have a story burning to get out. It doesn’t want to wait. It hasn’t even told me what it is.
They never understand the need to wait, the need to be fully formed enough to survive outside the womb of the writer-mind. Of course, they grow and change and develop after their birth, but to allow it out too early is to suffer a miscarriage, to mourn the loss of all the might-have-beens. To birth a story too early is to watch it gasp and struggle and die, and never to know everything it might have become.
And sometimes you birth a story too early and manage to nurture and coddle it along: late nights and intense edits. And so, so many drafts later, your squished, malformed infant becomes a perfectly functioning creation that you may never know came too early. Or maybe you will, but it’ still whole and beautiful, in its way.
My little brother was a preemie. Allow me my offensive analogies.
As a kid, wanting to be a writer, I had a lot of those — aborted stories. Only a handful of ideas ever became much of anything. I’d have the glimmering of an idea and immediately pour all my energy into it. Then I’d burn out. It never lasted. But even now, I pick up what I wrote at ten and twelve years old and find I can’t put it down.
That raw energy that is so mesmerizing is also something we lose as we become better artists and writers — better storytellers. I like to imagine that if I lock myself away for a month with no duties, or responsibilities, or obligations, I’ll rediscover that intense, all-consuming flare. That the story I write will grab me and not release me until I’ve written, “The End.”
It’s been a long, long time since I felt that. Maybe I can’t any more. (That’s a depressing thought.) Maybe I know too much; I can’t lose myself in the moment of the story. Instead, I think about things like plot and goals and arcs and development… And at the same time, there’s the clamor of bills, of the day job, of family.
On the other hand, I can now tell a coherent story. I now regularly reach the end. Is it worth it? There’s not much of my work yet to use as a standard, but there will be. (In the meantime, check out the MYWS project and my short-short story Enshrined.) So draw your own conclusions and allow me mine: Yes.