Tag Archives: failing at writing

Interlude 2: A found fragment.

30 Aug

I’ve been revisiting some of my autobiographical pieces, which I realize is a documentation of my writerly life in my twenties. You can read them in order:

part 1: first novel blues

part 2: second novel madness

part 3: minor success

part 4: short story and a crackup

part 5: short story that goes nowhere

part 6: junket life and five stories

part 7: dreams of automatic writing

part 8: first scene from my wretched screenplay

part 9: shift in political consciousness and unfinished novel

—and I realized that most of the fiction I’ve written in my life—and there’s an assload, let me tell you—hasn’t been read by anyone. And often I didn’t intend for anyone to read it. This makes writing exhilarating, deeply weird and often untethered to the point of writing in the first place. Which is communication. And yet, knowing you’re writing something no one else will read gives the act a weird magical overlay, as if you are communicating with some unknown part of your self. It’s a liberating feeling. And akin to madness.

Anyway, I have so many little snippets of things—I write every day before I start work for five minutes with no goal or direction in mind, on top of manuscripts and ye old blog here—that I often stumble across stuff that seems to have been written by someone else. Another little bit of writing alchemy. Here’s a plot outline for something I never wrote. The file was named “Storybird for Class,” so this was probably going to be a digital picture book. Or something. I can’t imagine that was going to be the title of a short story, but as I don’t remember writing it or why that’s one more thing that is lost forever.

Anyway, here tis:


In a small village at the edge of a vast forest, a young girl is raised by a single mother. The mother is strong. She has short, black hair, long arms and legs, and carries around a short knife. The villagers are warriors; the forest outside is populated with ogres, dragons, demons and monsters. The mother spends her days husking corn and shelling peas, cooking stews and beating linens. Her life is hard, but so is everyone else’s. At nights, she puts her daughter to sleep and stares out at the slow red shift of the stars.

One day, the girl goes missing. The mother wanders through the dust streets and huts, but can’t find her anywhere. She can’t find any men, either.

They had left, and would not return.