Of stories and thinking.

“Am I boring you?” I ask my husband, feeling a little worried as I read about 1/3rd of my short story. He has been so quiet up to now, and maybe my description has been too long. I’m not good with descriptions, I decide. And I am even worse with trying to write literature.

My head has decided it is the end of the world in the nano second before he answers. Yes… I am chicken Little.

“I love it, go on,” he says, eyes round with eagerness. This throws me off a little and I need to find the last sentence that I read.

I read on.

‘It’s too long winded,’ I think

‘Not enough drama.’

‘Not enough horror.’

‘At this part it’s too vague.’

‘Here, I explain too much.’

During the time that I read, I ask him once more if I am boring him. He doesn’t like it when I read to him after all. But he’s not bored. I can see it in his face. He’s not bored at all. And so I finish the story. Still convinced that I suck. Though I actually enjoyed reading it out loud. Found a few errors, that always pushes a little panic button in my stomach, but on the whole… I think I rather like my story. Can you say that, about your own work I mean? That you liked it? Because I did.

“Wow,” my husband says. “I really enjoyed that. I loved the characters. Very distinct all three.”

During that morning, after I read my story to him, he comes back to me to talk about the characters. He wants to express his thoughts and feelings about them. My story is making him think. This makes me so happy that part of me just wants to cry. Cartoon style with big honking teardrops gushing from me as if I am a fountain. Because it makes me emotional when my work ‘reaches’ someone. When it sucks them in and they think about it.

Now normally I wouldn’t be so impressed seeing that my husband loves and supports me, so he must like everything I do, right? But he doesn’t. He loves and supports me, but I can tell when he thinks my stories are ‘so-so’. And he doesn’t like fiction and he hates being read to. He lets me read to him because I need it.

So it’s good that my story made him think.

This writing business is new to me, so I don’t have fans who tell me how much they love my work. The occasional friend reads my story and usually people are positive… but that question remains: “Are you positive because I am good, or because you like me as a person?” I can’t help but wonder.

Right now, I am a little addicted to the comments of Mike Jansen. He always gives it to me straight. I know if he likes something, he likes it, and if he doesn’t… he’ll tell me. But Mike is just one guy and he has a life too. I can’t keep stalking one guy. I think his wife would kill me.

There are other places where I get that feeling of ‘having reached someone’. Organising larp (Live Action Role Play), for example. That is the ultimate instant gratification. You see people live out your story and loving it. People ask questions about your plot and about their role in it. Wonderful stuff, it’s addictive. I want this in writing.

Whenever someone gives me a compliment, I would like to sit them down in a chair, shine a light in their eyes… old interrogation style… and ask them a bunch of questions. I don’t, because I realise that is nuts… but I would like to.

So I need to enjoy all the moments that I get. Whenever I get to reach someone. Even if it is my husband. Because those moments are still rare. Those compliments are what nourish my ‘self confidence’ to triumph over my insecurities.


Of stories and thinking. — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Chanti,

    this was fun to read, and it\’s great that Daan does this for you.
    The part about wanting to interrogate people made me laugh. I sometimes feel like that too with my work. \’Do they like it because they are friends or because they really like it?\’
    Different and yet the same. In my case, I don\’t know. I haven\’t read very much of you, but what I recently read intrigued me and gave me the shivers. (the story about the girl being eaten alive.) A very short read.
    I don\’t read much because I find it hard making time for it. So if it comes to giving feedback I am not an expert at all. But that one was fun. Haha.
    Oh well, I suppose this doesn\’t help much. But keep on going. The fact that you love doing it must already be fun too. I know I do the same with my job :)

  2. And it’s a good story, too… I enjoyed reading it. A slight departure from your usual themes, a little less ‘in your face’ and a bit more appealing to the subconscious, making you, indeed, consider stuff…

  3. Great post! I know exactly what you mean, especially about the interrogation of encouraging readers! I have found that part of my journey has involved my changing relationship to compliments and praise. I used to not believe any positive feedback I’d receive. None of it. I could dismiss it by dismissing the person or critiquing them (“Well, they don’t even write so how do they know what’s good?”). However, I have learned that its okay for me to accept compliments, as accepting them doesn’t mean I can’t see my own writing weaknesses and work on them. There’s a book called, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron in which she says, “It is my job to write the work, not judge the work.” I take much of that book with a grain of salt, but that is one idea that has always rung true for me. :-D

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