The Life Cycle of a Story

It’s crazy to think back on the life cycle of this story. The summer of 2009…that means it took five years for me to get from the nugget of an idea about a guy and the weather to this piece that now lives on the Joyland Magazine website.

I wanted to document this as a reminder to my future self, for when I’m feeling bleak about my novels or whatever it is I’m working on. Everything starts as shit. Everything. There were so many times I believed the story was unsalvageable. So many times I thought I was giving up on it for good.

I was never certain I would be able to mold the piece into what it was meant to be. But somehow I did it. And now you can actually read the thing. Unreal.

One short story, five years. But in these five years I’ve learned so much. Who knows how long it’ll take me to get one of my novels through that same cycle? But now that I can look back and clearly see the path that I took in order to finish that story, I don’t care. The amount of time doesn’t matter. There’s a lot to reshape. A lot more growth to be had. I’m calm and I’m ready.

My virtual friend Emily (whom I met on MFA applicant message boards) on the life cycle of her story, which just got published at the awesome joylandmagazine

(via INFOGRAPHIC: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Top 10 Tips for Writers | Electric Literature)
"It’s also an answer to an old question: should you write for yourself or for an audience? The answer is “for an audience”. But not to impress them. The idea is to help them discern something you know they’d be able to see, if only they were looking in the right place. Happily, this also makes writing easier. “We never feel any difficulty when we are pointing out something directly perceptible to somebody next to us,” Turner and Thomas say. “We are built for this.” Understood this way, writing isn’t a performance, a confrontation or a matter of ramming information into someone else’s brain. It’s the writer and reader, side by side, scanning the landscape. The reader wants to see; your job is to do the pointing."

This column will change your life: how to think about writing | Life and style | The Guardian

The Writers’ Retreat

The Writers’ Retreat

(Source: The New York Times)

"Don’t think about how your characters sound, but how they see. Watch the world through their eyes—study the extraordinary and the mundane through their particular perspective. Walk around the block with them, stroll the rooms they live in, figure out what objects on the cluttered dining room table they would inevitably stare at the longest, and then learn why."

5 Writing Tips: Dinaw Mengestu

"If I had a staff of even one person, or could tolerate a small amphetamine habit, or entertain the possibility of weekly blood transfusions, or had been married to Vera Nabokov, or had a housespouse of even minimal abilities, a literary life would be easier to bring about. (In my mind I see all your male readers rolling their eyes. But your female ones—what is that? Are they nodding in agreement? Are their fists in the air?)"

Lorrie Moore on the Difficulties of Constructing a Writing Life | Longreads