When to Listen, When to Tune Out

3 03 2010

I’m in the process of (hopefully) finishing a short story I’ve been working on in some form or another for many years now (yes, I said years!). The story is set in rural village in a post-apocalyptic future, and many of the folks who’ve read it have compared it to The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, although it’s also very different than that in some ways. And I think I’m at that point where external advice about where to go with it is no longer useful.

Don’t get me wrong, the advice I’ve gotten from teachers and fellow writers with whom I’ve workshopped this story have been crucial for me to listen to to understand how to get the piece this far, and it’s changed significantly, and I think only in positive ways. And of course, my reading diet has influenced its direction considerably.

But in the end, only I know where I want the story to go, and what I want it to sound and ‘look’ like. And this is really the hard part, because from here on out it’s just me and the pages and the words on them, and that sometimes loud, often quiet, voice inside me that requires me to tune out all those external voices in order to hear it.

This is where, quite literally, peace and quiet and solitude are key to the development of a writer’s craft. I may need to go on a writing retreat by myself sometime to get this, but in the meantime I’ll keep on keepin’ on.

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