A Spot of Navel Gazing

La bola de cristal (Waterhouse)

There is no way I can post this without it coming off as egotistical but tough luck. The question and answer come from a very kind bunch of comments on a recent piece of short, short fiction.

It got me thinking about my process [wow that sounded pretentious, didn’t it?] and this is the result.

If you are a little nauseous, you probably should stop reading about …………… now.

mobewan says:

July 17, 2013, at 5:41 pm (Edit)

You’re annoying me now,  where are you coming up with this great, tight little stories that seem to flow so naturally?? How do you stop yourself wanting to flesh it out? What’s annoying is that they don’t need fleshing out! How do you recognise that? Everything I write goes on and on and on. Like this comment.

Thank you for those kind words…………. and the short answer is, I don’t know.

Some days these things come at me in groups and then days go by and nothing.

Also, to be honest, these short pieces are heaps safer than committing to longer stuff….. I’m just not sure that I have what it takes to hold people’s interest for several hundred pages.

Non-fiction is easy….. I just write about the subject as a bunch of chapters until I run out of things to write about.

I give the finished product to a few friends who are interested in the subject, and I say ‘be brutal’, and they give it back with only minor changes, and they say that they enjoyed it!……….. see, easy (two years of agony type of easy to write my account of our home schooling adventure!)

Our state library takes two copies of my book, and it has never been on a shelf…. constantly borrowed…….. this is very encouraging, but home schooling is a small selective area of interest………. so I start blogging, and that goes well, lots of fun, lots of feedback…………. I figure people here will be gentle so I try fiction…… again a good reaction, some more so than others, and that’s ok……. sometimes stuff just comes to me, and other times I see a photo and the story is right there….. at least the beginning is, and it writes itself as I go along (which is fun, exciting and a little bit spooky).

And then it just stops.

As for ‘fleshing it out’.

When I wrote ‘Out There Waiting For You’ it was meant to stand alone and it came from Christian V’s amazing photo. As soon as I saw the shot, the story started to unfold and away we went. It was very short, but I was pleased with it, and it went up with only a little bit of polishing…………. I started getting comments like ‘we want to know what happens next’……. more than one comment and my missus agrees, she wants to know also…… so now the pressure is on, can I write a second act?

I think about it for a couple of days, and it heads off in a direction I was not expecting, but I really liked where it went. Those who had read the first part liked the second part but it was not what they expected….. they are kind, but now they REALLY want to know how it ends!

My first instinct is not to come up with a happy ending……. that is not how life is for most people, but my missus threatens me with all sorts of stuff if I don’t find a way to complete this to her satisfaction!

I write the ending, and I’m very pleased with it.…. all three characters get a look in, and I experiment with telling parallel story lines which I think works quite well.

I put a lot of myself into this final part….. I press the publish button…. a few people comment, but it does not receive the reaction I was expecting……… isn’t that interesting?

I have always written stuff that I would like to read, so I’m constantly amazed by people’s reaction to it. I’m amazed when they like it, and I’m amazed when they don’t, and I’m confused when they are silent.

I guess this makes me a writer?

AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR COMMENT WAS LONG!!!

I want you to know how much I appreciate your comments. I take great encouragement from them.

Like everyone with an ego [mine needs its own postcode] I play the numbers game.

I get excited when I get a new follower, or I see a name I haven’t seen before in the ‘like’ column of a post, but the reality is that I’m excited that there are people out there who see a post from me and stop what they are doing and sit quietly and read it…………… how cool is that?

I have a list of people[yourself included] who I do that for. I don’t let these people’s posts go by without reading them. Sometimes this means that I miss sleep to catch up, and the thought that there are people out there who do that for me makes me proud.

It makes me want to do better, to learn more about this craft.

For the time being, I’m going to stick to these shorter pieces because I feel as though I have a few more in me yet.

If you got this far into my reply, I thank you for your patience, and I thank you also for making me think about all this stuff.

Terry

So there it is.

I’m not one of those people who is constantly chasing new followers, but I am grateful when they come along.

I am one of those people who appreciates the people who come back time and again and read, sometimes ‘like’, and comment when something strikes them.

My wife thinks it’s funny that I talk about my WP ‘people’. 

It has been fun to discover so many talented people; artists, writers, thinkers and photographers [some of them all at the same time!], and it is exciting when they find me.

That is enough navel gazing for one day, but please understand how important you all are to me.

Thank you.

20 thoughts on “A Spot of Navel Gazing

  1. It’s a mutual feeling, Terry! You stand out from the pack and I’m sure glad you’re here, there, and everywhere! Cheers, Maureen

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    • Exactly!
      In my country it is unfortunate that we have a tendency towards false modesty…. it really gives me the sh*ts. I don’t enjoy people who big note themselves when there is nothing to big note but it is just as annoying to see someone with obvious talent pretend that they are not talented. But that’s me.
      Glad you are happy to read my stories, I’ll do my best to keep you entertained.
      Terry

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  2. Navel gazing always a good process. I prefer succinct writing with a point and think this medium (WP) at least lends itself to shorter pieces. Always read yours but read them with a view to enjoying them rather than commenting as such. Keep up the great work!

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    • Thanks for the comment.
      I know what you mean about the reading for enjoyment.
      I try to comment on other people’s stuff when it seems appropriate, otherwise it feels like I’m focusing on me and not the post……… it should always be about me but sometimes it isn’t!
      I hit the like button more often because that says that I was there and I had a good time and I hope that person takes that as encouragement and that I know how much effort they have put into entertaining me.
      Terry

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  3. Don’t worry about the ‘naval gazing’ – we all do it from time to time. That’s what makes us who we are. I also get excited when I get a new follower – I think we all do, and anyone who says otherwise, is lying.

    Keep on ‘keeping on’ I say. Keep on writing (although I have to admit my intermittent brain fog sometimes requires short paragraphs with plenty of spaces in between in the post (but that’s my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia health condition which affects my brain as well as my body – not your lack of writing style).

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  4. Hi Terry, I have the same sense and experience when I write something on here. Often times, well, I should say all of the time, when I write something I’ve no idea what it is I’m about to write about. It’s as if it comes from elsewhere. Mind you, my subject matter isn’t exactly inspiring, it might be for some though? I tend to write because I feel I’d like to write “something.” Now, whatever that might be, I’ve no idea until I place my hands on the keyboard and off I go. It is the strangest thing because I always thought that writers have a plan, a beginning, a middle, an ending, and I’m not too sure that bits and pieces fall into that sequence.

    Keep up the good work. I love how you mention your wife’s input and the “pressure” she puts on you to make sure you end the story in a “happy ever after” way. I love this because it demonstrates the love that the two of you share. What a blessing!

    Take care for now.

    Gina

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  5. There is nothing egotistical about this post. It`s just plain, simple, honest and from the heart-like all good writing.
    Sounds like you have your very best critic-and by that, I mean your most honest and encouraging one-right under your nose. Yes, literally!
    But the whole WP/blog phenomenon is interesting too. I am curious about how much the complimentary comments match up with the stats. I haven`t written enough good posts yet to find out.
    But, regarding silence, I have to say my WP reader and email notifications are very fickle. So I`ve sometimes missed entries-including yours.
    It must be a thrill to see that your writing is taking you down the fiction road. Yes, you`re a writer anyway but nice to experiment and change genres. Maybe you could enter a short story competition and get another kind of audience too?
    Dream on, dream big, don`t let mistaken notions of egotism get in the way. I`s wonderful to see people striving for wonderful things. And a priviledge to play a tiny part in that from the sidelines.

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    • Thank you for those thoughtful comments [as always].
      A while back I did enter a couple of short story contests. The stories were ok, not great, but there was something there…………….. never heard a word! Not even an acknowledgement that they had received them! A couple of the contests were with Libraries, and you know how meticulous those f*ckers can be………. not a word. Maybe my stories were so bad that they needed time off work just to recover. Maybe the person evaluating the stories was so fed up by the time they got to mine they had to end it all [I remember that feeling while correcting essays back in my teacher days!] Maybe they were just rude. How hard is it rattle off an email to say that “we picked out the good stories and your’s sucked but thanks for trying!'” How hard is that? I don’t mind being crap, I just don’t like being ignored.
      We have a few festivals up our way and there is always a poetry reading event. A friend of mine is pretty good at this lark and I encouraged him to enter. He did. He did very well and now he’s hooked. Maybe I should bite the bullet and read a story or two. Mrs araneus1 says I’m a lousy reader and she’s probably right so maybe not.
      In any case I accept your challenge and shall seek out further challenges.
      I may even go back to running and write a clever blog about it…….. no wait, someone is already doing that. Damn!
      Seriously, I’m having a very good time at the moment. I would write more but I’m having too much fun reading all these amazing blogs [yours included, of course]. I find it a privilege to be a part of these excellent lives. These are the conversations I have always looked for in life but only occasionally found.
      Thanks for taking the time to be a part of this conversation.
      Terry

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  6. There are times when my flash fiction just flows out on its own . . . I think the reason it works is that it’s nearly subconscious; the idea comes, the idea is simple, intuitive to most, and needs no explaining. Fleshing them out often does nothing but dulls these little gems.

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    • I think you have something there.
      The Melbourne International Film Festival [MIFF] starts in a few days. Last year I kept a diary of experiences I had in and around the various film sessions. I posted one here, “A Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.
      Mostly the journal contains little stories about conversations had and conversations overheard. They are literally ‘flashes of time’. Knowing what came before and after would not necessarily enhance the experience.
      And so it is with short, short fiction………… most of the time.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment…… I appreciate your insight.
      Terry

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  7. Very nice, authentic piece of navel-gazing. You even managed to find some fluff in there. Very brave post. It must have felt liberating! I always enjoy your fluid, captivating writing and your lively, quirky imagination.

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    • Thank you very much for your comments. You must have had to dig a bit to find this piece.
      I haven’t read it since I wrote it but I read it again and I see what you mean.
      I remember thinking for quite a while before I posted it. There was always the danger that it would come off as another one of those ‘Look How Wonderful I Am’ posts that you see from time to time, but in the end it did seem an honest account of how I felt, and my views have not changed. My stuff can be a little bit ‘out there’ at times but I’m glad that you used the word ‘fluid’ because I do aim to be.
      Thanks again……….. and hug that doggie for me……. mine are asleep on my lap as I type……. it’s not easy typing sideways but I’ve been away a lot lately so I think they are making up for it!
      Terry

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