Wednesday, July 13, 2011

the second line, or how i will never finish a story


it didn't used to be this way. i would sit for hours in my dorm room, rocking back and forth in the wooden chair. the same wooden chair that held scores of students before me, in that same room with the bunk beds and exposed brick wall. i would rock, and while rocking, think about how to start my story. my essay. my report. microsoft word pulled up, with the cursor tauntingly blinking in the upper left corner. it's not that i didn't have anything to say. i had plenty. but starting it took time.

now, i can write a thousand opening lines. words flow from my fingers and spill out onto the screen. it's the meaty part that's hard. the second line. that's where my mind clams up and my heart races and i'm afraid i'll never match the beauty of the words before. there are stories tucked in my journal that are nothing more than one-liners. to flesh out an entire novel seems impossible for this girl who loves simplicity. loves short sentences pregnant with meaning.

hemingway wrote a six-word story once. just to prove he could:

for sale. baby shoes. never worn.

i think that's my fear. that i will sit down one day in front of a computer in a room unfamiliar to me now, but by then, wholly my home. and i will write. and maybe the words will flow furiously or maybe it will take years. and i'll never match the meaning of those six words. that my opening line will be a story in and of itself and the rest will be filler. fluff.

there are words in this heart. and stories and tales. but like the writer, they are simple. and i'm scared of suffocating them. with dialogue. with descriptions and details.

so i keep them tucked away. until i have enough breath in me to share with them. and its this symbiotic relationship that will redeem me until i can form, shape, mold and create them enough that they live entirely on their own.

19 comments:

Mallory's Mommy said...

jeeze im such a mom! when i read "second line" i immediately think pregnancy test lol

vintch said...

@lauren, ha that's funny! no ma'am...just writing:)

kimbirdy said...

writing is definitely scary. for me it's, "what if i'm unable to finish it?" so i never even try. but writing is one of those glorious things that is easy to change/edit. the hard part is just getting it all down. if that second line falls far short of the first, you can always retype it. for me writing everything - all the drab details, the lengthy dialogue, the waxing poetic for pages on end - just getting it ALL out of me, is so helpful in being able to then sit down and write a simple, beautiful piece. have you read "the artist's way?" i think it'd be perfect for you. it's all about living out our craft, taking those risks, taking action, and creating despite the fears and road blocks {it's also all about using the creative process as a spiritual exercise since god is the ultimate artist}. there are some great exercises in it too that help writers. oh, anyway, this is all unsolicited advice, but i guess what you said here just resonated with me so much, i felt compelled to share what i've found to be helpful. anyway, i hope you write that second line, and third and so on. you're a fantastic writer and the world would be a better place with more writing by you.

Valerie said...

judging by how much i love your writing on this blog, i am absolutely certain your second lines (and third and fourth and thousandth) will be just as beautiful as your firsts.

Ana* said...

Being the great writer you are, I don't think it would matter if your story only has 6 words or three million... As long as you write it, we will read it!

Anonymous said...

If there is anyone who should write a story, it is you! Your writing on the blog every day is just amazing!

~Tiffany
http://tiffanyd22.blogspot.com

Lillian (Unstitched.) said...

I think that's totally an understandable situation for anyone who loves stories and writing. I've totally been there myself, where a story is so near and dear to my heart that I'm afraid of actually writing it, for fear it won't measure up to everything it means to me in my head (heart?). I tried NaNoWriMo last year (didn't end up finishing because of a surprise trip to Hawaii in November), but it was an interesting exercise...still, it's hard to sit down and keep thinking that what you're writing is crap. Even though you know you can edit it and pound that bad writing into gold...it can be a painful process for sure.
Keep it up, though - I'm totally rooting for you to get your story out in the world!! :)

Erika Lee Sears said...

you can do it girl! I have learned creativity takes practice and doing :) me and hubs are always making stuff and have time everyday to do it.

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

i totally know what you mean. i have that problem too. but you are a very talented writer and you should share that beauty with the world, as you do on your blog! xxxxx
mirrorofmyworld.blogspot.com

Amber Blue Bird said...

you truly have a gift when it comes to writing. I always leave your blog thinking "I wish I could write like her." The stories will come in time.

High Heeled Mama said...

I think all writers have this problem. I know i do. To force myself out of it, I did National Novel Writing Month last November. A lot of what I wrote was total trash, but the mere act of being forced to sit down and CONTINUE was a learning experience I will cherish forever. The novel that resulted is good for nothing than filler in my computer files, but there are little seeds inside of it that are begging for a little water and sunshine.

Now, if only I could force myself to actually cultivate them.

Just keep going.

HazelandMare said...

Yep, that's pretty much why I stick with 17 syllables. ;)

You, my dear girl, are an unbelievable writer. Don't doubt that for a second! If you write it, we will come. :)

Jennifer Rod said...

i love @Ana's comment to you here. and I think im with her. :)

Kerry said...

What Hazel said, you're a fantastic writer. Take it from someone who does it for a living, it's not always easy but it's the urge to write pumping through your veins that separates you from the rest. If you like, I can send you some of my writing prompts (I teach creative writing), just let me know. Stick at it and write for YOU. Forget about everyone else. Create a world you love. It will come xo

Anonymous said...

Oh I know this feeling so very well. I have been writing the opening paragraph or first scene in a movie in my head for years. Sometimes at night when I'm trying to fall asleep I hear the lines in my head.
You have such a gift though, I think you will find the words and when you do I will be the first one in line to buy that book.

jeanette from everton terrace

Shay said...

You would be the last person I would guess has a problem with writing, Courtney. You write so beautifully!

Taylor said...

Isnt this every writers problem and if they say otherwise is it a writer we want to know or love? Someone who is almost too confident will give us something lackluster with no vulnerability.

New to your blog. I have to say I've been enjoying perusing your entries. Lovely writing.

xlpharmacy said...

It is sometimes hard to believe that good writers have problems writing, one may think that they always are inspire to write about anything.

becky said...

We're on the same page, here. That six worded story brings tears to my eyes and I bask in it; in its awe. I will never match it in this lifetime or the next or the one after that--but I hope, too, that I'll never cease to try and that this lifetime, and the next, and the one after that, will always, always have a story.

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