Geetanjali Mukherjee

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Foray into Writing Fiction

A few weeks ago I published my first short story. 

This is also the first short story I have ever finished.

I had very low expectations for it, given that I have been writing fiction for a relatively short period of time. I won Nanowrimo in 2015, but that novel is just sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to edit it or deem it unredeemable. 

People used to me why I don’t write fiction. My mom constantly asked me this, accompanied by ideas for stories. If you’re a writer, you know how annoying that is. Others would say this to me, usually as a hint that I probably should start writing something with a wider appeal.

My response was always - I don’t have any ideas for fiction. I can’t write it. That’s just not me.

But the thing is that it was me. I used to write the beginnings of stories and little sketches when I was in middle school, but chickened out halfway through and never completed anything. My notebooks are filled with conversations and scenes that never went anywhere. 

I always assumed that if I were meant to write fiction, the entire story would come to me in a flash and all I had to do was write it down. I thought the words would pour out smooth and polished. Since that never happened, I just kept waiting. 

But here’s the power of bringing intentionality into your life. I started listening to podcasts on writing, and inevitably most of the authors interviewed were fiction writers. Hearing their origin stories and forays into writing I realized that there would never be a moment when the stars aligned and everything would be perfect. If I wanted to write fiction I would just have to do it. 

Listening to authors talk about work and discipline and tricks for boosting word count I tiptoed into Nanowrimo and managed to write 50,000 words of a novel, although most of it wasn’t even first-reader worthy. But I did it and realized that I could write fiction. Maybe not very well, but it was possible.

And then I started getting ideas - all the time. Everywhere I went I heard stories. I took notes on the ideas when I could, but didn’t develop any of them. Still, I was waiting. For the timing to be right. To finish my current work-in-progress. To take a fiction-writing class. To read more craft books. Listen to more podcasts. 

Until finally one day when I got fed up with my own excuses. And I decided to take my laptop to a coffee shop and write - no matter how badly. Awkward phrases and cliched sentences poured out, but soon I had a draft. And then I revised that draft and pressed publish. 

As I said, I wasn’t expecting anything. I simply wanted to change how I saw myself. I wanted to take that first tentative step along the path of writing stories. 

That first step changed something in me. Not just in how I saw myself, but in how others saw me. I could have talked forever about wanting to write fiction, but I discovered there is power in taking action. My first readers loved the story, even given its flaws. They told me my characterization was my strength, when I had always believed that was my weakness. I got a complimentary review from I had an animated conversation with a few friends about the various ideas I had for stories and a series I was thinking about. Previously, I had never even talked about books with these friends, and suddenly we were discussing plot and characterization. It was a shift, that came from my taking that first step and putting my work out there. 

I have a lot more to learn. And lots of stories bursting for me to tell them. I definitely believe those authors who say that creativity begets creativity. If you feel as if you have no ideas, act on something. Create something. You will find there is a river where you thought there wasn’t even a rivulet. 

And if you’re interested, you can read my story (and maybe leave a review 😀): The Brooch

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