Today while Graham napped I looked through an old notebook filled with creative writing attempts, and then I spread some the notebook's contents on our bed. I have a lot of junk, most of which I once felt a quickly fleeting pride over. Typically my story pride lasts the night that I work on a story and until noon the next day, when I discover it's no good and banish it to the old notebook. And I rarely look at the old notebook, but today, I did. This is the story of the some stories I found.
There's a story that takes place in a funeral home and that's about the grandfather of a large family who dies and leaves behind, among other things, a massive marble bust of himself, which none of the family members either wants or wants to get rid of, so they each try to talk/manipulate the others into taking it. No one but a young granddaughter is willing to take over ownership of the bust, and no one takes her offer seriously because she lives in a dorm. There's more to it than that, but I don't know how to explain it.
There's a story called "The Snack Station" about a college-aged girl whose hair is cut off by an evil, overly made-up snack station vendor; the vendor gets her just desserts when, after having her locks raped, the victim uses the same pair of stealing-scissors to stab a hole in to the vendor's hand. There's more to it than that, but I don't know how to explain it.
There's the story about a high school atheist, Molly, whose older brother, Pete, commits suicide after first getting rid of all of his possessions. He even cancels library and video store memberships and drops out of college before slitting his wrists, which he does while naked, and no one can figure out what Pete would have done with his clothes, which can't be located even in any dumpsters nearby Pete's apartment. At Pete's funeral Molly tells her grieving family and friends the story of when she and Pete, as very young kids, killed a slug by pouring salt on it, which makes slugs disappear entirely. After killing the slug, Molly felt guilty and cried her remorse to Pete, who promised they'd never hurt anything again. Then she and Pete walked two miles to K-Mart and got a kitten from a box belonging to a family obviously overburdened by cats. They named the cat Slug, and so Molly says that she feels that the first slug is alive somehow in the second. And she says that even though Pete and his things are gone, he, in some strange way, remains. She talks about a presence that's definite but difficult to articulate, and her family and friends think she's talking about God, so they urge her, right after her brother is dead and covered with dirt, to go into the ministry. So she does, even though she's an atheist. While she's attending the seminary she starts to date Pete's vain best friend, Andrew, who follows a strict carb-free diet and may have had something to do with Pete's death.
There's a story I wrote fairly recently called "The Vomit Chronicles," which I submitted to the University’s literary magazine almost two years ago and which was REJECTED like I expected. It's supposed to be a spoof of a detective story, which might've worked if I could write like a tough guy. The story is inspired by true events: when Aron and I lived in an apartment complex downtown, some jerk kept getting drunk (I assume) and vomiting in the hallways, and some mornings it wasn't even possible to leave the building, which had four different exists, without passing one of the vomit spots. Vomit really, really grosses me out, and I felt like I was going to lose my fucking mind it was so disgusting. I'm sure there are still stains on the floor from this period of the apartment complex's history. Anyway, the title is supposed to be a pun: vomit choric-ills. The story is mainly about a non-detective sent to investigate the case of the vomiter. Instead of explaining why a non-investigator becomes responsible for the case, I'll just share the first part of the story in my next blog post.
There were several other stories in the old notebook, one of which I wrote in eleventh grade with the intention of incorporating into it all the vocabulary words from my English class that year. This was a very ambitious project. I had failed ninth grade English. Tenth grade was a slightly less unsuccessful year for me academically, but by tenth grade my failure wasn't a very distant fact of my past. I technically failed all of ninth grade, and I was terrified in tenth grade of my yearbook photo being placed with the ninth grade photos, which it wasn't. I graduated high school with a very low GPA, maybe because I spent my time writing stories with words that I didn't quite know how to use yet, words like reprobate and probity. Anyway, I was really in love with this vocabulary story, a love that lasted more than an evening, so it was especially discouraging when I read the story today and realized it's awful. Just awful. The first sentence contains a dangling modifier, a grammar mistake that reminds me of boogers. Boogers are gross. My story is gross. It belongs in the trash with tissues, but I'm keeping it. I don't know why.
So it seems impossible to be lastingly happy about creative attempts, but I don't think that means the pursuit should be abandoned. Because while the happiness and creative exhilaration last, it's the best kind of thrilling and doesn't end in a hangover. Right now I'm working on a play with only two characters: a romantic couple of comedians who had always, until they decide to split up, pooled their material. Because they lived life together, they wrote jokes together, and because so many of their experiences were shared, their inspiration was similar. But then this couple has to divide their intellectual property, i.e. their jokes, into separate pools, and the jokes stop working, i.e. stop being funny, once they get deconstructed. So my plan is for the play to start off full of jokes (which is hard, because it's not like jokes are so easy to write), and by the end of the story the failure of the relationship has also entailed the end of humor. So from comedy to tragedy is the goal. It would be excellent if I could come up with a really hilarious joke as the last line, but it's impossible to laugh at because your mood is so deflated by then.
So when I have time, I'm going to keep trying. That's the moral of the stroll.