I’ve gotten to a place where my short stories all feel the same. Paradoxically, this sameness means that I’m reasonably happy with them. I start somewhere (the inspiration differs) and write a first draft. Then I do a bunch of thinking and plotting and see what bubbles up in terms of a character’s psychological history. Then I revise. The results are always on the long side, with lots o’ dialogue. I feel like this must be occurring because I’m trying to perfect a particular short story method. Once I’m able to turn out stories in this mode that are as close to perfect as I’m capable of achieving, I’ll move on. Right? Right?
Le sigh. This is the one of my great fears as a writer – that I’ll fail to evolve. But! One can’t spend too much time obsessing about this sort of thing. It’s not productive. What’s productive is returning to the work, again and again, with the aim of improving.
This weekend S and I saw The Kids Are All Right. There was a lot to admire on this film – the acting felt very natural, for example, though this is coming from someone who’s seen nothing but silliness all summer long – but for me real stand-out was the script. I think that Lisa Cholodenko and screenwriting partner Stuart Blumberg did an excellent job of maintaining believable empathy for all the characters (except Clay, who didn’t deserve it anyway) and establishing then destroying various alliances between them. It felt nuanced and mature. This is the kind of writing that makes me sit up and say to myself, yes, like that, only when I return to the computer, it doesn’t quite come together in the way that it ought to.
Which is, of course, just more evidence in favor of practice.