Friday, 3 October 2008

The Writing Life - Naming Babies & Other Misc...

A 2nd story draft finished day before yesterday - 5,000 words plus. Interesting how you sometimes start a story hoping to make the 2,000 word mark (ie promising yourself that if this makes 2000 I'll throw a party tonite), and then discovering at that what is meant to be the last bus stop that the distance is only half conquered.

It started out titled "BIRTHDAY BOY", inspired by Birthday Stories, a Haruki Murakami-edited (he made the selections and wrote an intro) anthology of Birthday-themed short stories that I leafed through at the English-fiction section of the Akademibokhandel here in Uppsala. (This is now becoming a ritual - chicken wings, a burger, fries and a coca cola at McDonald's, and then up the escalator to the expansive bookstore to wander around, leafing through books most of which are in Swedish...)

In Birthday Stories are stories by Russell Banks, Ethan Canin, Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, Claire Keegan, Andrea Lee, Daniel Lyons, Lynda Sexson, Paul Theroux, William Trevor and Haruki Murakami. Each of the stories in the book happens on a single day. You can read a review of it here

I was tempted to buy it, but no thanks, not yet - I've got a zillion unread books here with me in Sweden (got a wonderful gift of six novels from a friend in the UK this week), and double that back in Lagos and Abeokuta, so...

So then, I leafed through the book, and came back to the office to write my own birthday story. At the end of draft 1 it has suddenly occured to me that what I have in my hands is not really a birthday story... it happens on the narrator's birthday, but it's not about his birthday... which is fine by me, life is sometimes about being cheated, and if my stories cheat me, what-the-hell... I can always pay them all back, each in its own silver-plated coin, at a later date...

So the title has changed, for now it shall be known and addressed simply as "PATIENCE". (I've never been an expert at giving names to stories and poems, wondering if there's any course that would handle that part of the writing life in an MFA? - "Naming Your Babies")

I'm playing with a couple of other story ideas... still haven't reworked the draft of my earlier story, the 4,500 word "EX", but then why look back when you can look ahead :-)

Plus there's a handful of new stories abandoned at and in-between bus-stops (more often than not the 1,000 word mark), and I'm really thinking I should get back to him. Discipline, discipline.

For now there's a paper on Language and African Literature to be prepared for a conference at the University of Copenhagen next week - and there's a bit of reading to be done... in pharmacy school no one alerts you to the existence of concepts like negritude, Poco & Pomo (my current fave words), and all those interesting polemical essays on "African Literature" that appeared in the Transition Magazines et al in the 60s and 70s.

What this means for 'outsiders' (I like that term) like me is that we have to spend our lives catching up. Which in reality is not as bad as it sounds.

1 comment:

Red Eyes said...

Seems interesting