As I’ve mentioned, writing is a compulsion. You don’t just write for fame, profit, or groupies (though those are good too), you write because you have to. But when it comes to writing with the aim of publication, it’s just so easy to forget about the actual unhindered joy of writing. Writing without purpose or aim. Just writing a story because it’s on your mind. The other day, I wrote some flash fiction. Okay, it was a little longer than flash which is usually under a thousand words. But it’s not quite long enough to even qualify as a proper short story. Anyways, I wrote it for no one but me really. No one else will read it and that’s how I like it and how it ought to be. This was simply the act of a brain throwing down the gauntlet and saying “Damn it, we’re putting words down and nothing’s going to stop us.” Because of that, it hit notes I still can’t hit with something I know will be seen and judged. In short, I found a streak of honesty and genuineness that I have trouble tapping into when it comes to something I’d eventually like to see read by others. Its simplicity just doesn’t quite jive with what I think I should be writing to get people’s attention. However, as is often the case, I found that, in its simplicity, it held one of the most essential elements of a story, one of the things that makes me pick up a book and keep reading.
What I’m talking about is the simple human aspect of the book. When I cut everything back, what I found was that the story I ended up with could take place in one room with two people and it would work and work better than many of the other things I’ve been trying. It literally took place in one room and revolved around interpersonal problems, not any threat to the world or anything large scale. It was what stories really hinge upon: characters. It’s for this reason I love these little stories. They focus my attention on things and remind me of what draws me to writing. It’s all about people really. It’s about how they react and what they go through. And I have to give it to Einstein here,
Making things simple is true genius. Anyone can complicate things. But it takes patience, probing questions and creative thinking to simplify. Whatever problem you are facing it’s probably not as complicated as you think – but we often make it so. If you want to solve more problems, simplify them. The real genius is turning complexity into simplicity.
So I think what I’m saying I’m figuring out is that complexity is not an aim in itself. I know that we like twists and turns. We have come to expect them but for their own sake, they are just plot devices. Turns, real turns that impact us, come from complex characters whose motivations we don’t fully understand. I think that part of what I’ve realized is that the type of story I need to write is one in which the characters, not the plot, determine the flow of things. Not only that, I think that this little experiment has told me a lot about the kinds of stories I want to write or that I genuinely enjoy writing. For me, the character comes first and foremost and plot second. So with this in mind, I can mold the novel I’m working on now into something fitting this description. It may mean that I’ll have to go back on its basic structure but in the end, I know I’ll be happier for it.