I’ve always felt compelled to write fiction.
I’ve started and shelved at least three bad novels.
Believe me, they needed to be shelved.
At about a third of the way into each of these doomed creations, the idea of spending hours just making things up, struck panic to my core. “These are your busy years”, said a voice that sounded akin to my hardworking, stoic grandmother, “You need to do something a bit more useful than daydreaming.”
The amount of hours that I need to glue my bum to the seat in order to produce a novel feels at odds with the demands of my single parent lifestyle. I’m sure that if I was destined to be a Doris Lessing type novelist, my teenagers demands for food, acne lotion (R395, for god’s sake) etc., would not deter me from shelving my kids rather than my novel and pitting my imagination against the blank page for interminable hours.
But honestly right now, I just don’t have it in me. I’ve relegated my desire to write a novel to a more distant, and hopefully less financially constrained, future. Like you do when you put off that trip to Venice until the kids have finished college. I draw succour from the likes of Annie Prolux who wrote books about paving driveways until she wrote the astonishing Pulitzer winning “The Shipping News.”
Meanwhile, I love my new job as a lecturer at City Varsity. Creative writing is part of the curriculum that I teach and while tweaking the course, I decided to spend 6 months preparing my students for their final assessment, which is a short, 3-5 000 word story.
For fun, I’m adapting this to a 6 week course for adults (including myself) who are interested in writing a short story.
I started my short story research with Raymond Carver.
What Carver wrote the introduction to his short story collection, Where I’m Calling From, gave me inspiration to try writing in this form. He wrote, with candour, that he chose the short story form because he didn’t have time to write longer fiction. The need to provide for a family, and sustain a heavy drinking habit, left him with insufficient time to write a novel. He described how he loved to sit down and finish a story in one session.
given that i can’t manage the indefinite commitment required for a novel, maybe I can dedicate one day to writing and finishing a short Sunday.
Since fiction is my religion, I have decided to dedicate Sunday’s to writing a short story.
I’m starting this Sunday and have no idea where this will lead.
If anyone wants to join me, welcome.