I'm pretty happy with the way these two stories turned out, and a little surprised that writing them went as well as it did. I didn't plan to write either of these; I just sort of sat down and started writing and they came out. At the time, I was trying to write more, and I set out to write for at least half an hour every day for 21 days in order to get into the habit of writing. Trouble in Cape Town and Hiroshima were written on the first and second days of that spree, respectively.
I think I like Trouble in Cape Town a little bit more, but I always use Hiroshima as a writing sample instead whenever I need one for a job that I'm applying for, since the emotions of mine that I'm showing are more positive than in Cape Town. I'm far from being an expert on successfully applying for jobs, but I'm pretty sure that you shouldn't submit writing samples in which you call people shitheads.
I think that the ending for Hiroshima is kind of cheesy, but I'm still happy with it. It details a real experience, and in reality there weren't any events that I could use as a denouement other than my thoughts about the experience, even if they were cheesy. I really did flick the peace bell while thinking about the conversation that I had with that old man, but I didn't think of it as a significant event as it was happening.
After writing those two, I tried to think of other experiences that I could make a similar non-fiction story about, and considered writing about a time that I almost drowned, but I never did end up writing about it. I suppose I'll keep that in my pocket for some other day when I feel like writing that kind of post again.
I'm torn about the title. On the one hand, it fits perfectly as far as the underlying theme goes, but on the other hand, it sounds too academic for what it is, and I'm not sure if it's best to directly reference the underlying theme at all. But I can't think of a better title, and it would be a shame to waste a phrase as fitting as "desiderative magnetism", so I kept it. It's a shame there aren't any less academic-sounding synonyms for desiderative (or any at all).
Desiderative Magnetism was the first fictional story that I wrote that I was happy with, and it was the first one for which I was able to put myself into the head of a fictional character and get myself to think like him, so it's an important milestone as far as my growth as a writer goes. The writing process started when I started writing from his perspectives, just detailing his thoughts on life, and it was only after I'd written most of his thoughts on how the world works that I decided to make a story about his past, too. I think that you can sort of tell that, if you look carefully, but I'm not sure it's a problem. I used to dislike that about its structure, but now I don't mind. I think the first sentence ("They told me to write what I feel") is a good way of letting you know that this is coming from someone who is in some kind of therapy and also gives insight into why he would want to talk about the way he thinks the world works before he starts going into more personal detail about himself.
When I sent Desiderative Magnetism to my sister to ask her opinion on it and some other writing samples (Sunup and Hiroshima) that I was thinking of sending with a job application, she told me, "It's my general opinion about writing right now that one should either write what one knows - fiction based on personal experience - or write what no one knows (speculative fiction/sci fi/fantasy). I think it's very difficult to write about real experiences that people really do have but that you have not had (e.g. alcoholism/drug abuse/failed marriages)."
I agree with her second sentence, but not with the first. I do think that it's difficult to write about real experiences that I haven't had, but I don't think that that means that I shouldn't write about it. If I want to be a good writer, I need to be able to do that, and I think this was an important first step in that direction. I do think that I was unrealistically melodramatic at parts of the story, though, and that detracted from making it seem as genuine. For example, I had a sentence about lying in an alley with a needle in his arm, and there was a lot more wrong with that section as far as melodrama goes than this, but it would have been much more convincing if he were in a sloppy apartment than an alley. The sloppy apartment would imply a lot of things about how he'd been handling his divorce and bachelorhood, but all the alley is is a cliche about drug users that wouldn't be accurate in his case. Why would he do drugs in an alley instead of at home, unless he didn't have a home. Why doesn't he have a home? It raises a lot of questions that he doesn't answer, so it detracts from the story.
This was inspired by a dream that I had. I wrote this kind of spur-of-the-moment, and I think that it turned out well. I like Sunup and think that it's a strong writing sample, but I'm not in love with it. It's a solid story, but I don't find it compelling. I used to have a higher opinion of it, and maybe I will again if I read it again at another point, but that's how I feel about it right now.
I do think that it's a good example of my ability to use consistent imagery throughout a story, and I am proud of that part of it. I'm happy with the raft/island imagery and the way that I tied it in with the tree at the end, as well as the slight implications that he'd already begun to be less connected to the world before he even reached the tree. I think that there are times when everyone feels like that - a little disconnected with the world, like they're slightly outside of reality - and I like the thought that my story might come to mind when someone feels like that and makes them wonder if they'll be spirited away like Trevor was.
I'm pretty happy with this one. When I first finished Flight, I thought that the voice of the narrator in the first paragraph didn't fit with its voice in the rest of the story and that I'd have to go back and change it. When I went back to it, though, I didn't think that there was as big of a difference in voice as I thought that there was, and decided not to try to change it. When I reread it when I posted it on this blog, I still felt like it didn't need to be changed. I think it could be changed and that the story could be improved by it, but I don't think the slight voice change is really noticeable unless you're looking for it.
One thing that I really like about Flight is that I intentionally changed the sentence structure in order to affect the way that the reader feels while reading it. When Arthur is running towards and off the cliff edge, there's one run-on sentence that keeps adding new worries and concerns that come flooding into Arthur's head as he runs, and I like the way that that pacing goes along with his mental state and increasing heartbeat. Then, when he finally jumps and time slows down in that moment before the drop, the sentences start having periods again, actually slowing down the pace of reading to match Arthur's mental state in his moment of euphoria and relief. It's the first time that I've done something like that, and I think that using sentence structure as a way of accentuating what's happening in the plot something that even a lot of good authors don't think about when they're writing. I remember when I used to read a lot more that whenever something exciting was happening, especially battles, my eyes would start skipping ahead in the sentences out of excitement, and I was always a little frustrated that the descriptions of what was happening in those moments of high adrenaline were paced the same way as the rest of the book.
It's strange to me to think about the fact that these were all written over a year ago. I haven't written (well, finished) any new stories since then, and that's a little depressing. I remember that at the time, I was frustrated with the fact that I'd only produce maybe one story a month, and that seemed like such a slow pace, but now I think about the fact that I haven't produced anything in a year, and that seems like so much.
I think a big part of that is how in the habit I am of writing, and I'm hoping that keeping up with this website will start to inspire to me write more frequently. I'm a little worried that if I get a job (temporary or permanent) that it'll make me too tired to write regularly, but I'll deal with that hurdle when I get to it, I suppose. In the meantime, I should make sure that I keep up with my writing.