Sunday, May 15, 2011

Writing, Reporting, and Me

I started writing fiction a little more than two years ago. I went with that whole "write what you know" thing and started directionlessly banging out a novel about a reporter who uncovers a scandal.

It was fucking terrible, but luckily I didn't know any better and piled up pages. Got into the discipline of writing every day (well, writing that wasn't journalism) and learned not to care what the first draft looked like.

At about, oh, I don't know, page 150 I realized I had no idea of where I was going and stopped. Decided I should write a few short stories. Now that's turned into a lot of short stories, and I have no intention of going back to the long form.

I did keep writing about journalism in the shorts, but all of it stayed on my hard drive. For some reason, I couldn't access it. I kept writing these whodunit things where the reporter is the investigator. Like I was trying to jam my experience into a classic form without any thought as to why I was writing it.

But finally, I got it. For once, perseverance paid off.

The story itself is kind of absurd, but it captures the core of my experience as a local news reporter. The frustration. The comraderie. The futility. The constant battling with sources.

And a shotgun. That's in there too.

If you want to read about, it'll be in PULP INK, coming to an e-bookseller near you late this summer.

Do you have something that you really want to write about but it just isn't working out? Or maybe you finally conquered it?


  1. Your journalistic background shows Chris. And that's a very good thing. Let's see, reminders of fairly decent writers with journalism in their backgrounds. How 'bout: Twain, Hemingway, Baum, Connely, Ellroy and Wolfe to name but a few. Hm. Pulp Ink? I think I've heard something about that. Grin.

  2. Yeah, I'm definitely in the same class as those dudes. They don't have jack on me.

  3. I have many stories I can't quite nail. It's part of the game.

  4. I've had a few of those can't-quite-get-it stories. Usually if I put it down for a while and go back it works out. Writing my story for Pulp Ink I was sort of stymied(even after you changed the line I had originally got to start with). I was getting frantic to get the story down but the sucker just wouldn't get out of my head and onto the page. Then after about a week the title came to me and that cleared the logjam somehow. I think the old subconscious just flat didn't like the title I had tentatively picked out and wouldn't let the rest of the story out until I got a title that it liked.

  5. Interesting stuff AJ. Know what you mean about the subconcious working it out. It's a freakin corker of a story, so I'm glad it came together.

  6. I have so many notes and fragments, it's insane. But yeah, when it all comes together, it's a great feeling. I'm really looking forward to Pulp Ink - that's going to be such a treat!

  7. I have close to a hundred stories and scores of fragments on various computers and notebooks. Sometimes I'm able to salvage parts here and there and that's a good feeling.

  8. What a background! I love that you used the word absurd for your novel, and so glad you could harvest this story for Pulp Ink. I'm really looking forward it. Like everyone else I also have a ton of stories stowed away on my computer not quite ripe. I like to think that the stories tell us when they are ready to be born.

  9. "stories tell us when they are ready to be born" what a delightful way to put it. Yeah, it's unfortunate one can't force the issue and just pull the story out kicking and screaming, but that's the way it works.