It’s hard for me to tell a simple story. Goes against all of what I like about media. I love the intricacies of a complex narrative. For a story to be engaging to me, at least on a level which makes me openly happy, I need my brain tied up in knots trying to work things out—to piece together the parts. This doesn’t mean I like confusing stories, but it does mean I’m drawn to multi-layered ones. Stories with startling turns, with underlying concepts, with social and political commentary, and creative symbolism, and this…this is a problem.
Because, well, my preference bleeds into my own stories when I write long form. I am not so much trying to do things in art no one has done before—if that’s even possible—it’s more I want to present it in a way like I’m not telling the same old story. Nonlinear narratives, fourth wall breaks, tense shifts, and experimental techniques are habitual to me.
But, you might argue against this being an issue, like “why is that a problem? Art is subjective.” Well, because it hinders my ability to do what all writers must do: tell a story.
Let me brag here for a second, I’ve written several hundred thousand words in this year alone (my math tells me close to 450,000 with just fiction). I equate myself to a machine when it comes to sheer word count, and when people compliment me, they call my work “well-written”.
I used to take this as a compliment. Now I realize it means I’m missing something. I can string together paragraphs like no one’s business. I can make a person laugh with a turn of phrase. And I can set up sentences which don’t repeat—even without a thesaurus.
But I can’t seem to just tell a damn story. At least not well enough. I get caught up in the tiny flourishes, the meta commentary, fun literary techniques, and winding dialogue with snarky punchlines. But if you asked me to make a character who grows and changes throughout a narrative, leading up to a cathartic conclusion with an antagonist defeated—if you ask me to make you care about a fictional person and his/her journey, then I feel like I am a newbie writing his first 10,000.
And so, I need to work on the fundamentals again. Odd how it always comes down to those, huh? I’m aware this might be me being a little too listening to my inner critic, and perhaps that’s all it is, but I feel my greatest weakness as a writer is though I am technically proficient, I need to get my heart back into my writing. I need to examine the souls of stories, since I already understand how the organs function.