Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Looking Back

            I have been going through all the short stories and articles (published and unpublished) that I have written over the years and I have been editing those that were never published so that they won’t appear so rough and unfinished – which, in fact, they are.   The idea is to have them all bound together in a book instead of having them lying around in drawers and filing cabinets where they serve no purpose.
            I have worked through most of them during the past two months and I must confess that some of my youthful attempts at story writing were not so bad.   I was about to pat myself on the back, but then I took a peek at the three stories that I left for last, two of which were written during the early 1960s before I went as far as taking a course in short story writing.   Reading them now I realise I was a complete novice where writing was concerned.   The heart was there, but the skill needed some drastic sharpening.   Why did I keep these stories?   Well, they were sweet and innocent, and they were very much a part of a dream I was nurturing.   And the dream did come true … eventually.
            Three short stories.   I’m inclined to call them the dregs because I deliberately left them for last.   I couldn’t face them in the beginning when I started this project, they made me cringe, and I also knew that working on them was going to be extremely taxing, mentally, emotionally and physically.   I can’t avoid it now.   They’re there; they’re the last on the list, and they’re crying out to be a part of this volume of memories even though they’re untitled and unfinished.
            Of the three there is one that was written in the latter part of the 60s.   It has a beginning, but no middle and no ending.   It strikes a powerful chord, but I haven’t the foggiest where I intended to go with it, so I shall somehow have to pick up the threads, put on my thinking cap and attempt to finish it in the same vein that it was begun.
            One of the two stories written in the early 60s is partly written and partly just dialogue with an important scene missing in the middle.   And the last one is a real Cinderella story, partly typed and partly handwritten and without an ending.   I didn’t think of it as a Cinderella story when I wrote it all those years ago, but that’s the impression I get when I read it now, and it has also become my worst nightmare.   I can’t put it in as it is, with or without an ending, and I can’t alter it too much for fear of losing the simplicity of the storyline.   It’s a more modern version of a handsome prince saving a young maiden from a life of drudgery, it’s a “feel good” story, and I can’t help liking it, but the style, though sweet, is archaic.
            So what to I do?   I haven’t decided yet.   I shall have to read it again, and perhaps it would help if I was less critical.   I have to try and remember when it was written, and under what circumstances.   I can’t help but think of my published work, and as I do so I realise that it might be good to look back at where it all began.   And, believe me, it is a humbling experience.

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