Doing battle with daily dragons

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Writing The Middle

I’ve been having a data clearout today. I’ve moved computers at least twice since I last did so and have obviously been transporting the silliest rubbish to each new, electronic home. So today, I’m doing the equivalent of throwing out the broken blender, the chintz arm chair and those yellowing stacks of newspapers that you convinced yourself were going to be worth something someday.

Along the way, I’ve encountered some of my old creative writing and have discovered something; it’s deeply embarrassing. Like porn written by your mother based on her own personal experiences. Some passages make you want to turn your face from the monitor in shame at their clichés, poor phraseology or naiveté. I feel obligated to make myself look, however, for we never learn but from our own gut-burning embarrassment.

I have found some pieces, however that don’t fill me with the urge to set light to myself. 4 years ago, I started writing a story about a midlife crisis, a few ghosts, a little bit of romance and a small village in Ireland, which, by the way, I have never visited, so I’m not entirely sure how I believed I was going to tackle that one. My worst problem is a writer is not being able to see a story through to the finish. This morning, on Radio 4, John Irving (author of one of my favourite books of all time, “A Prayer For Owen Meaney” as well as about 16 other books with roughly the same plotline) was talking about how he always wrote backwards, working out the endings first. Endings, however, are NOT my problem. Nor are beginnings. It’s all the crap in the middle that I seem to be incapable of sorting out.

So I’m looking at this story and the background that I’ve constructed for it, which, I might add, it far better thought out than the story itself. I’ve actually got almost 9 sections finished without making any of the inhabitants of the village into the protagonist from the Lucky Charms commercial. But literally, right in the middle of a sentence, the story ends abruptly and I found myself terrifically frustrated because I WANTED TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS. Too bad for me.

The problem with writing a story that includes romance is that it inevitably leads to having to write about sex, which might just lead to my death due to extreme mortification. Even if no one else ever saw my attempts at mildly erotic fiction, it might just be enough to kill me that it existed. I have a certain friend who is extremely adept at this sort of writing (as well as all other sorts) and I have attempted to take a page out of her notebook, but I have discovered that a) she probably has a better imagination than me and b) a much higher tolerance for embarrassment, although there is little to be embarrassed about in her writings, which are both eloquent AND erotic. I even checked out (while The Rock Star was away one evening) an erotic fiction site in hope of finding some examples, but found the place almost entirely devoted to incest fiction, so I beat a hasty retreat.

So I need to work out what happens between my beginning and my happy ending.

A little metaphor, anyone?