Thursday, August 12, 2004

In Which I Wax Professorial About the Subconscious Storyteller

Finished a new story on Monday, "Two JFKs." Another one, as yet untitled, should be done this weekend. My stories just keep on getting weirder. Every time I finish one lately I have more of the feeling of "Where the f&*% did this come from?" I am not saying this is a bad thing, but it is odd.

In some ways I'm not a writer who is very aware of my process; I just write whatever is grabbing me, with little thought to what it's about until after I have something on the page. I very rarely write to a theme (whatever that means). After I've got most of a rough draft, I can start thinking about what the story is about. Sometimes it's just a story. Sometimes it has an agenda, but usually the idea is a question, not a statement. I revise with that in mind, and usually things work out; I'm hugely dependent on my subconscious. It works out all the connections that my rational brain can't see. I know that this drives some people crazy. Some people do detailed outlines; many at least know where the story will end before they write a single word. That's the right way to do it, for them. For me, it's important that I be able to be the audience and the storyteller both--I have to tell myself the story.

Anyway, the weirdness. I'm OK with it, but I wonder about it. The last trend I noticed, about 4-5 months ago, was that I was doing a lot of short, humorous pieces. It was as if I was developing the muscles for that. I'll never be Douglas Adams or David Sedaris, but I managed to develop that tool--and as soon as I noticed I was focused on that, I started doing these longer, stranger pieces. Now that I've noticed this trend, I wonder if I'm going to shift my interest. I have a lot of stories germinating, but my conscious mind isn't the one that decides which one gets the attention; whichever one takes root in the compost heap of the undermind is the one that will happen next.

Blah blah blah. In other news, an alas from GvG for "A Whole Man," after about 60 days. Vacation or vacillation? I'm betting on the former.