People who follow this blog will know that I got back into writing last year, but that was not my first return to writing. I made periodic attempts a year or two before that, but most of them were not on this blog. Some of them were more theological, and I may still continue that from time to time.
I also tried some short story ideas. While at work I would ponder ideas, and I had several. But there was the problem. They were only ideas. I never could go far with them. I could think of an idea, but writing scenes, dialogue, and characters that were not one-dimensional, forced, and artificial was a serious struggle. I could think of the idea, but I could not fill in the gaps.
One time I did submit a story to a short story contest. I doubted I had much of a chance, but I decided that I needed to try. It was rejected. I then tweaked it and submitted it to a magazine. It was rejected. That was okay. It was a bit unsettling, but I knew it was only my first attempt. I continued trying other ideas, but they came out flat, if they came out at all.
I have on my desk the black 5″ x 7″ 80-sheet notebook I would carry in my pocket. It is almost full of snippets and ideas – ideas that remain only that – ideas. Sometimes I have concluded that I simply am not cut out to write fiction. If that is true, then what do I say about the notebook of ideas? Should they remain there? That does not seem right.
Sometimes I see a catchy quote online, attributed to Victor Hugo: “A writer is a world trapped in a person.” Sometimes I feel like that. I have two ideas that are bigger than the one I submitted to the contest. One deals with an important ethical issue of our day, and the other has the feel of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Both could be intriguing stories, if I could only get them out of my thick head.
I do not want all of those ideas to remain in my notebook never to be seen again, and so I made publishing a short story an item on my Bucket List. I do not know how I will do it, but it is a goal.
I welcome advice from anyone who has had a similar struggle. Also, if you know the source and context of the Hugo quote (and can confirm that it was written by Hugo), then please leave a comment. I would love to read it in context.