The Little Victories

So I don’t know if I told you all, but I got back into writing lately—fiction writing that is. And I know that’s bad because, ultimately, I should have a set schedule for writing on a regular basis by now, but I’m working on it. Even though I’m more of an ambitions kind of girl who takes on novels rather than short stories, I wrote a short story this quarter.

And I really like it.

Granted, I took a fiction writing class this quarter and a short story was one of our assignments, but you’d be surprised how I ended up with the story I turned in.

You see, the concept of a short story was kind of daunting to me. Because I love writing and stories and I have so SO many ideas, but I’m not great at getting to the point when I need to. My “short” stories never turn out being short.

There’s always too much ambition in the way for that.

Five days before this story was due, I had the first page of four different short stories written. The first page. Only. Picture this: It’s 11:00 pm and I’m scrolling between each one on a Friday night, trying to decide which one I want to keep going with. And every time I tried to add to any of them, all I could produce was cliche melodrama.

The hours passed and I watched the cursor mock me, blinking at me in a constant reminder of my lack of work from the open nothingness in front of me. 1:00 am. I had nothing and I was lying with my head on the table, staring at the computer sideways while I traced lazy circles on the dinner mat my head rested on.

I started typing: “What do you do when a creator’s hands want to create, but their insecure mind keeps telling them that they can’t?”

It made me think of my attempts at painting, the blank canvas a daunting demand to be filled.

1:30 am. At this point, I started messing around with the keys, opening a new document and typing out everything I was thinking. Painting. Not being able to, maybe there was something in the way. And my main character, I wanted her to paint, but she couldn’t.

Why couldn’t she?

For the next two hours, I was on a deep dive into my own thoughts, trying to figure out why this painter couldn’t find beauty in her painting anymore and somehow it just made sense to keep going, to try to get her to the painting she missed so badly it ached but somehow couldn’t touch a single brush without losing it.

I took a painter who couldn’t find the will to paint anymore and I wrote up a life for her in which, that made sense.

I was a writer who couldn’t write something beautiful to save my life. So I wrote about it.

Maybe I didn’t save my life, but I did feel like a writer for the first time in a whole because this story, it turned out quite beautifully.

It opens with Janice, standing among her paintings and staring dismally at her studio walls, aching with a need to create again. But there’s some reason she can’t bring herself to do it and as she walks around looking into each colorful canvas outlining her past, you fall into her life with her and begin to understand what exactly it is standing between her and the person she wishes to be.

Juxtaposed with her daughter, Anita, who is so full of life and energy and constantly pesters her mother to paint with her, there’s something about this story that brings to life the concept of writer’s block in a way I never imagined it. The questions is, does she end up giving in to the pull of creating, or does she walk away from it?

If you want to read the story to find out what happens with Janice and Anita, let me know. I’ll share it with you. Otherwise, I tell you all this because that night, I created something out of nothing. Simply by waiting and giving myself the space to do so.

If that doesn’t make this a successful quarter, I don’t know what does. I did one thing I’m really proud of in the last three months and well, I think that’s got to be enough for me right now.

Hopefully you can find at least one thing too. Happy Friday.