Feb 16, 2011

With Valentines Day just past I was prompted to consider why I chose the theme I did when I started this project. I thought about the piece that inspired me to start this collection. It’s one I’m holding back—I want to rework it so I can feature it to celebrate (if I make it that far) a year of daily stories.

Thinking about it that story, in which a young guitarist creates one great riff, which is adopted by his girlfriend’s band, so he loses control of it, was about how we, as humans, seem compelled to test the limits of things beyond what we should expect them to bear. In this way we load all sorts of value and meaning onto relationships that are inherently fragile. We want them to work out in such a way that from them we become more than one—more than we are as individuals. But that same hope is just another weight we put upon them.

It’s a bit like what we do to our planet as a species. We seem compelled to push and push. To load more and more onto it. To test our faith. Is it part of the human condition, our fascination with discovery and self-discovery, to want to continuously edge towards an unseen breaking point?

The stories collected here attempt to tap the complexity of this desire—the compulsion so many of us have to want to believe, to be prepared to be laboured with the expectations and the ever present potential for the collapse of that very thing we create to support ourselves.

Discussing this work recently I commented that I could have chosen far more ‘popular’ themes. Perhaps it is in my contrary nature to choose a theme like love. I wonder what would have happened if I’d set out to write a story a day about rock ’n’ roll, for instance, or tattoos or social injustice. I suspect I would have run out of steam by now. Run out of stories. But ‘love’, though such an unloved theme these days, is so dense with possibility that I feel I’ve barely scraped its tender surface.

Jan 1, 2011 (Happy New Year)

To celebrate reching six months of publishing a story a day (which I think is a fair milestone) I’ve opened this page on which I’ll try to capture some of my thoughts about this project. But first a short ‘woo hoo’ (to myself) for making it this far.

In part this exercise has been about learning to find stories. I still have difficultydescribing what it is that turns a chance observation, a flash of inspiration or a hunch into something with recognisable narrative form. What I have learned is that the stories are there, often in the most mundane notions and that the same elements that apply to longer forms of fiction, particularly the establishment of voice, the fleshing out of characters and the structural intracacies of plotting all need to be considered, even in stories as short as these.

Here are just a few of the places I’ve ‘found’ small stories about love.

  • overheard conversations
  • family history
  • in other stories (recently fairy tales have been an inspiration)
  • discarded lines in writing notebooks etc (these are a real minefield)
  • in single words or phrases (sometimes just tumbling through until something goes bing and a germ of a story is there)
  • songs
  • particular landscapes

One of the primary tasks of a fiction writer is to find stories. It’s possibly the most magical part of the ‘job’. Hopefully, as I learn more, through writing my stories I’ll be able to capture some useful insights on this page.