Running StoryADay May is a fabulous experience. I love interacting with the other writers and watching them push themselves and celebrate themselves and actually *do* the thing they’re always saying they want to do.
But it does tend to have an adverse affect on my own writing, oddly enough. I didn’t have a workable plan for this year (writing stories set in the ‘universe’ of my ongoing novel turned out to be too distracting, because I just kept wanting to get back to the novel). I did write several stories that might or might not end up being part of the novel (or adding to that universe) and some separate stories, but I certainly didn’t make it to 31.
Still, I did write and now that May is over, and having taken several days (14 or so) to wallow in the freedom from my daily deadline, I’m finally back to writing again.
A few months ago I picked up 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, intrigued by the idea of it being a, set in Edinburgh, a city where I love-love-loved living and b, having been written in daily installments for The Scotsman.
I had started it before May started and put it aside, but have been tearing through it again recently (and just picked up the sequel, having been quite delighted to realize that there are something like seven more volumes).
One of the things I really liked about it is that it wasn’t perfect. It was just OK in places. And it wasn’t until later in the book that some really interesting characters turned up, and that I started to look forward to each new day’s segment.
The reason I liked this, is that it reminds me that the more you write, the better it gets. And it doesn’t have to be flawless.
Rising To The Challenge
For a long, long time, I’ve wanted to write something like this, set in and around the fascinating little town where I live. I was first inspired by the Lake Woebegon stories on A Prairie Home Companion, but couldn’t see a way in. Alexander McCall Smith’s style resonated much more with me: entertaining, whimsical, never taking itself too seriously, examining the minute details of everyday life to entertain and examine larger issues, seeing and celebrating the ridiculous while not being too silly…Scottish, in a word.
One of the things that struck me was that the author, in his introduction, said that he was enjoying writing his daily installments so much that it had never, not once, seemed like a chore. That sounds like something to aim for!
So I’ve found a way in to my long-cherished dream, and started a series of stories loosely centered around a family who moves to a small town something like the one I call home. I have a cast of characters to get me started, and I’m sure that others will turn up — especially since one turned up, uninvited, on the first page and endeared herself to me immediately, stalling the arrival of the ‘main’ characters by an episode.
I haven’t decided what to do with these stories but, if I can get a few more under my belt soon, I may start publishing them here. They’re meant to be just for fun. Just to see what happens. I feel like I have a sense of what will happen throughout this first ‘season’ of their lives in Forgetown (as I have named their hometown), so I plan to write until they reach that point and then take a break.
Of course, I still have other projects on the go, like the novel I’m determined to finish and the series of non-fiction articles I’m writing for someone else, and of course, keeping the StoryADay community ticking over…