In Search of Those Well-Imagined Stories

While scanning the discussion boards yesterday (i.e. procrastinating) I came across an essay suggestion. It was for one Tim O’Brien wrote for the 2009 Fiction issue of The Atlantic. Luckily, I purchased my copy from Burlingham Books in Perry, NY when it first came out, so I was able to re-read it without straining my eyes by staring at the screen or wasting ink by printing it out. I had marked one line back when I first read it, and it is still the best line–in my opinion.

“Above all, a well-imagined story is organized around extraordinary human behaviors and unexpected and startling events, which help illuminate the commonplace and the ordinary.”

That pretty much defines the best stories to read–and to strive to write. I finished the article and ended up on a different writing site with those words still fresh in my mind. I reviewed a few things and let’s face it, if you can buy votes, it’s not a fair election. I gave lower marks than I might have otherwise, but none of the writing there sparkled in the slightest. It’s getting near the time I need to renew and I think I won’t. I have made some genuine flesh and blood friends there, and it can be a great place to pick up story ideas–I am a sucker for the ‘This sentence starts the story’ listings–but as a whole, it’s not worth it to me anymore.

Yes, I’ve had some minor success with my writing which has been gratifying, but I am having a hard time finding time to participate on the other sites, so to those of you whom I’ve spoken to about this, I hope that you better understand why I’ll probably be leaving. It isn’t you, it’s me. And you’ll notice I left the idea of returning open, too. My horror-scope said I’ll have a hard time making a decision today. I am amused when those things are right!

Besides, it’s rapidly approaching 1 September 2010, the day so many publications open up to submissions. I’m well on my way to being able to have 50 ‘new’ things out within that month, but I still need to polish. And yes, SG, the letter I promised to have written & sent out should be on its way… eventually, well at least it will be found so I can add the last two stories to the envelope. Progress!

Until next time!