I finished “Perfect Day” this weekend. Less than eight thousand words and it took about a year to do, so it’s not exactly heralding the end of my burn-out (nor my sabbatical), but it is reassuring to know that I can still produce if and when I need to.
More reassuring was my enjoyment in the writing process. I worked on it when I felt like it -- mostly this month -- and when I didn’t feel like writing, I didn’t. I realized again how much I love the work. It’s almost like a drug…that feeling of sinking into an imaginary world, losing yourself for a time as the concerns and cares of these made-up characters supersede your own.
But it’s such a simple story. Really…not much happens in it at all. I like it, but is it going to be enough for readers? Because, yes, I do write for myself -- I think all writers write for themselves to some extent -- but I publish for others. The act of publishing equals the desire to share.
In this case, the narrative takes place over a matter of hours. It’s mostly reflection and dialog. It’s just a story about two guys who seem to have reached the end of their relationship. I enjoy exploring characters and relationship dynamics, and believe it or not, I don’t always need a gun battle or a high body count to do it. There is a plot and there is conflict and there is resolution. So, yes, technically this is a complete story.
But it started me thinking about what a story is. What do we expect from stories? What do we want from them?
I know it varies from genre to genre and individual to individual. I’m mostly thinking aloud here, not really expecting a definitive answer. But really why do we read? What do we look for when we turn to fiction? When does it most satisfy us?