30 Stories in 30 Days #22 – “W. A.”
“Hi, my name is Joe.”
“I’m a … I’m a writer with too many ideas.”
“That’s why we’re all here Joe. Why don’t you tell us about your problem.”
“Okay. Um, I started writing stories in high school, usually just silly things concerning my friends. Once, I wrote a … And Then There Were None sort of story involving the teachers. Of course, this was back in the day when kids could do that sort of thing without being arrested and charged with a hate crime or whatever. I’d have an idea and I would write the story out over the next week or so. I don’t remember – in that time – having more than one story idea to work with at a time.
“When I went to college, I took writing courses and my stories grew in length, and depth, and substance. And one day, I was in the middle of a story when I had another idea. It was both exciting – I considered it a sign I was becoming a true writer – and annoying. I could write stories, but I did have trouble putting the words down and I couldn’t think how I could juggle two stories at once. So I opened a blank notebook, and jotted down the idea for the second story, hoping I could finish the first before the … sparkles left the second idea.
“I finished the first story, and was able to work on the second one. But it seemed that … now that I had a notebook to write down my story ideas, it was like some floodgate had opened. Before I had one or maybe two story ideas a month, then it became three, four … five or six. I even had single ideas that could be taken in three or four directions. How could I write all of that?”
“It’s okay Joe. You’re among friends. Do you want to go on, or is this too much?”
“I can go on. Um, I fully filled that first notebook in my last semester at college. It seemed like I spent half my writing time writing stories and the other half writing down ideas. On one hand, I considered this proof that I was a Writer with a capital ‘W.’ But on the other hand, I started to feel like a machine. I woke up, went to class, maybe doodled a story idea instead of taking notes, then go to lunch where I’d have a notebook to write up ideas. Sometimes not even full story ideas, just fragments of dreams that might fit into a story someday. My grades suffered, my social life suffered. But I was writing. I produced stories.
“This continued after college. Not all, but a good portion of my stories found homes. But then, the rejections began outnumbering the acceptances. For every story I finished, it seemed there were twenty more ideas. In my attempt to even out those numbers, the quality of my stories suffered. I’ve denied that for …. In the last six months I’ve written hundreds of stories, but I haven’t sold one. Even as I finish them, I think, This is crap, but there are so many more. Just standing here, as I’ve talked, I’ve come up with an idea and I’m fighting the urge to scribble something on a napkin.”
“Joe, just relax. Take a deep breath. Good. We all know what you’re going through. It’s the biggest challenge we face. Something that has helped a lot of us, is just remember, not every idea has to be written into a story.”
“But it’s so hard not to do that.”