Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It Won't Leave Me Alone

I've come up against that old philosophical question - if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Or, translated as it applies to me...if a story is written but no one reads it, was it worth writing?

I know a lot of writers claim that they began writing stories for themselves, writing stories they wanted to read without regard to the idea that maybe they'd someday want others to read them as well. I totally and completely get that. I think that's why most writers are first inspired to write - they have a need for a story to be told that no one has yet managed in the precise way they want it. You read a story and are dissatisfied with how it was executed, how it unraveled, how it ended, how one or more of the characters are portrayed, or any combination of factors. So you attempt a rewrite of sorts. Enter the realm of things such as fanfiction. And fantasy football.

Sure, maybe you invent new characters or new scenarios rather than borrowing someone else's, but in some way you are trying to meet a need that you have that hasn't been met by anything you've encountered to date. Truly, I would wonder that if there was a way to catalog every single story ever told by humankind in such a way that a person could easily access the data, no one would ever need to write anything because someone somewhere probably wrote the very story they were looking for.

So you write the story you want to read, and even if it's utter crap, you smile when you read it again because it's the story as you thought it should go. Good enough. And for many, that's plenty. They tuck their notebooks or their computer files in a neat little box and pull them out for a grin time and again, quite satisfied.

But the rub comes when the itch to write the story for yourself grows and starts to climb the garden walls. All of the sudden, you as the sole audience member isn't enough.

And I'm wondering why this is and what makes this happen and who becomes subject to this?

For example - I've confessed before to dabbling in fanfic. Not going into the rightness vs. wrongness of fanfic here or now, suffice it to say that I think fanfic is the perfect training vehicle for newbie writers, and I owe a lot of my learning curve to that questionable genre.

Of late, I've got an itchin' to write a fanfic. A couple of reasons - it's a good place for me to loosen up my writing muscles when I'm stuck on my own stuff. I love the characters and the world already created and want to play with those toys. Like getting some new Barbies or Legos. And mostly...there is a story that I'd like to be told involving these particular characters and this particular world that hasn't yet been told the way I want it to be told. So it's a matter of, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

Given these above reasons, I should be able to write up my little fanfic, save it on my hard drive, and pull it out every once in a while when I want a smile (the story I wanted is right here!) or a laugh (gads, what awful writing) or an exercise (how can I make this better?). No need to share this with anyone, right? I can't make money off it. I can't convert it to my own stuff because it's very specific in terms of premise, characters, setting, etc. For all intents and purposes, it's useful as nothing more than a pleasant hobby, a way to spend a rainy afternoon. And there is nothing wrong with that.

But something in the back of my brain keeps tugging at me. It keeps asking the question, if I'm not going to show this to anyone else, why bother writing it up at all? Why not just let it linger in my imagination, where it's all perfect and flexible and instantly accessible? Why do the words need to be on the paper if no one will ever see them?

What's the point?

I know I've already said that it's good exercise of craft, so I could use that as an excuse. But, heck, if I'm going to do that, I might as well work on my own stuff. But I want to write this story. I want to read this story.

In fact, I keep trying to push the dang thing out of my mind. Heck, it's kind of clich├ęd as far as this particular fandom goes, so this story has probably already been written. A couple thousand times. I'd be embarrassed to put it out there in the cyber world only to have a bunch of hardcore fans ream my butt up and down about how unoriginal I am and how so-and-so already did this and a billion times better. I'm so not looking for abuse, or even, honestly, feedback of any sort.

But I still can't stop wanting to tell this story. I still can't stop thinking of scenes and hearing dialog in my head and imagining the climax and all of the fall out and the angst, picturing in my head the way the movie reel looks, the music playing in the background...the dang thing won't leave me alone. I'm haunted.

So I suppose I could write my story and post it on LiveJournal or someplace similar with the intention that if anyone stumbles across it, whatever. It's out there, but I have no intention of advertising that fact.

Why couldn't my passion be something simple? Like juggling chainsaws.

No comments: