As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to push changes to how things are done, I am trying to keep up with the writing I have been doing in my personal journal, on a couple of other websites than this, and in this webspace. Given some other things I have going on in my life at present–nothing bad, worry not, but nothing I’m set to discuss in detail here–the thought had occurred to me once again that I might try my hand at fiction-writing. I might tell stories, hoping that people would like them.
I have made some attempts to do so before, of course, here and here and elsewhere. I do not flatter myself that I have done well in those attempts; I have read many stories, more than most, and I have looked deeper into them than those same most, but there is something about putting together a coherent and engaging narrative that eludes me. Or it has in the past. And I am chary of telling many of the stories that are actually mine to tell, things I have seen or that have been told to me so many times I might as well have seen them.
Many of the stories that I have to share are from parts of my life of which I am not proud. I have changed as I have aged, and not only in that my hair and beard are grayer, my belly flabbier and my arms skinnier, my skin more wrinkled. No, I like to think that I have become somewhat kinder and more compassionate–which has unpleasant implications for my younger self. Certainly, I have become more aware of inequality and inequity, and too many of the things I took for granted in my youth, that I accepted as the way things were and neutral therefore, are not the kinds of things I would repeat now. The names, at least, need to be changed, but changing them alone makes them the kind of fiction that really isn’t and that might invite rebuke from those who otherwise would have been named.
More of the stories I might tell, though, depend on context that is usually not clear; I suffer much from “you had to have been there,” the more so since I made many efforts to reduce the number of people who were there, and they have not flooded in since. I do not know what I need to explain and to whom, and it is hard to follow a narrative without such information–and harder to develop one. But most of all, I think, is that my life has been remarkably sedate. I have done little, certainly little of account, and I do not know how to make the life I have lived interesting to any save a very, very few–and they already know, for the most part.
I would hate to bore them with the repetition.