(Note: This is a response to a writing prompt by my friend Jeremy Hyler at our National Writing Project iAnthology writing site. The prompt was to write about something we have given up. I chose stories. By the way, you should consider voting for Jeremy for his blog at the Edublog Awards for best new blog. At the least, you should add him as someone to follow as he reflects on teaching, writing and, particularly, reaching middle school boys as readers and writers.)
I’ve given up more stories than I can count, and each time, I feel as if I have lost someone dear to me. But they just had to go. I’ve given up stories that started strong and ran out of something by the middle and either fluttered to the end, or never even made it there. I’ve given up stories that seemed to go one way, only to veer another way, and then I could not find the strings to tangle them back together. I’ve given up stories because I have forgotten the story I wanted to tell in the first place, which is about as much of an awful feeling for a writer that you can have. I’ve given up stories because of the opposite, too: I told the story I wanted to tell and that story was for no one else but me. I keep those stories in my heart. So, maybe they aren’t completely given up. I’ve given up stories more often than I have not given up on stories, and I often wonder: what does that say about me as a storywriter? Do I give up too easily? Can’t I focus, for god’s sake?
My 11 year old son was writing a story the other day on our computer and then last night, he told me he had run into a wall and decided to delete the whole thing. No, I almost shouted. Don’t do it. At least save it for another day, another year. Save the story for another time when another version of yourself can pick it up and keep it going. I think I was talking to myself as much I was talking to him.
I’ve given up lots of stories, but somehow, I know where they still are.
Peace (in the lost and not-so-lost stories),