Thursday, June 28, 2007

Real Life

"They say 'write what you know'," I said.

"That's what they say," said Jon. He peered from the dugout. We were in rain delay and if things didn't clear up soon, the umps were going to call it. I bounced a ball off the back of my hand. We were down by two runs, but I knew if we resumed we stood a chance. Keltner, their leftie had started throwing nothing but junk.

"If I wrote what I knew, I wouldn't write. I've tried. I think what works best for me is when I incorporate true elements of myself in my work. For instance, if I write a story set in the eighties in Montana, I obviously don't know squat about Montana and not a whole lot about the life of mountain men at that time."

"Stands to reason," said Jon.

"So, I research the state and the life of those individuals and I write about it. But the things they feel, the loneliness, the closeness to nature---I can write about that by drawing from my own experience."

The manager walked by and gave me an evil look.

"If you're gonna keep hittin' like you've been, try holding the bat by the other end."

Some of the players chuckled. Jon smiled. "Don't let him bother you," he said.

The manager snorted. "Yeah, good advice, Zech. This coming from the 'Error King'."

"Me? I write more from experience," said Jon. "When I wrote my 'Buck and Tangee' thing, that was more closely related to my life. I have trouble writing crazy stuff like you. I like taking this person, then that person, and putting them in a quiet, ordinary setting and seeing what happens. I like spending time on description and detail. Painting a picture."

I nodded. "Again, I don't think it matters if you write about real life so long as you're writing about real people."

Zech looked at me. "I like that. Say it again."

"It don't matter if you write about real life so long as you are writing about real people."

The umps called for the managers and we could tell by looking at the ground crew that they were getting ready to pull the tarp from the field. The sky looked menacing, but it had stopped raining.


avery said...

You're on a roll this week!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Actually Avery, I've just finished struggling with a short story that sucked the big one. At least that's how I felt when I finished it. I may be more kind when it's had a chance to sit for a little. It was one of those that you struggle and struggle..and ordinarily would have put aside. Except I'm determined to get some stuff done. God help me.

Also, summer is a weird blog time, don't you think? I believe less people are surfing and blogging. Less people in school, more people doing things with their families, being on vacation, enjoying life.

Irene said...

Sometimes, when I don't know, I just write. Afterwards, I then know.

In the end, everything comes together as long as you are true to yourself when you write.

Jon said...

Just call me Slim.

And it's "fewer" people, not "less." Pick, pick, pick.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi Stew: I enjoyed this post. I've been struggling trying to write a journal type post and, as you said above, it sucks. I'm going to give it one or two more shots and then give it up if I can't do any better. And it is all about ME! Go figure. Oh, my.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Donetta, when I am struggling with a short story, I sometimes need to know when to let it go. It doesn't mean the thing is going to die, but it might mean I need to get away from it for a while and let the thing ferment. I am always cautious about using that as an excuse though.

Irene, integrity is critical, isn't it?

Travis said...

I like these little dialogs.

Tammie Jean said...

I like them too. I'll have to come back more often for these little pearls...