Life is plenty complicated without writing. Life’s impossible without writing.
You see, I’ve got tons of fiction here. Well, it be tons if I printed it out. I’ve been writing every day for decades now. Long past the limit Neal Stephenson once told me, the 100,000 words you throw out before calling yourself a writer. The problem is, life’s complicated.
I happened into a New York City bookstore. On the same shelf paperbacks by the aforementioned Neal and Robert Repino. I know them both. I returned home and fired up the laptop. Hundreds of stories. Half a dozen novels. Amid all of this, just one story of mine that one small journal thought was worthy of actual ink. It won third place in a contest.
There’s no way to count pre-computer writing. I was born before the advent of the household CPU. Before electronic calculators. We thought the TI-30 was a big deal, little red lights and all. I’d been writing for years already. How many words? Who can count that high? Who has the time? Life, remember…
So I fire up the laptop and start counting. I quickly lose track how many individual stories I have in Scrivener. At various stages of completion. Many finished, sent out, and rejected. Many more being polished and awaiting the click of the “send” button. Even many more not yet done.
I click through some of the older stories. I can’t remember where I was going with them. When I started, the idea, I know, was pretty clear. Beginning, middle, end. Characters so real they could be sitting in this very room. Now, however, I don’t recall their names. Backstories. Why was that character suicidal at that particular time? What do I know about whaling, beyond Moby-Dick? Perhaps one with flashes of intense emotion like me should be a poet instead?
It’s raining in the city and I recall one of my published stories about Bryant Park, just outside this plate-glass window. That window’s like time. You can see through it, but you can’t change it. Not without breaking the law. And life’s already complicated enough without doing that.