I've always attempted journaling but I can't say that I've had very good luck. There are journals piled around here everywhere, some of them full, some half-full, some sporadically drawn and written in. Doodles, phrases...sentences if they're lucky. Periods of manic scribbling and years of silence.
My computer has become more of a journal than any bound volume could've ever hoped. I can type much faster than I write. In light of this simultanous compulsion to write and total lack of consistency, my computer has lots of little bits of me floating around in it. I write snatches...thoughts that seem particularly poetic or promising. Blips of frustration. Collections of mild insanity. Since I can't sleep, I was reading through some of my niblets and found a diatribe on writing short stories.....
I don’t particularly like short stories. They’re premature novels…brain puffs that never got loved into life. They’re the angsty teenagers of the literary world standing bold and defiant amidst authorities but really longing for love and maturity. Maybe I’m just bitter because I’m no Flannery O’Connor or Annie Proulx. I’m not even a second-rate John Grisham or Dan Brown. Maybe I’m just mad because I don’t think I have a good short story in me. A friend says we all have one novel in us. I happen to know I have four novels in me, but short stories…I don’t feel those knocking on the inside of my head antsy to be loosed upon the world. The novels are insistent. Bratty even. They claw and scratch and scramble. Short stories don’t whip themselves up in my head. They don’t jump around like magic beans..
I feel like I should write short stories. Shouldn’t I crawl before I walk? And that’s a cliché I wouldn’t put into a short story unless it was a particularly naughty one that I felt needed punishing. If I wrote a short story I’d want it to be gritty. Completely unlike me in every visible way. I would step half out of myself. I would put the academian aside and embrace my past. The one I don’t think about too often. I would embrace my upbringing. The one that most “refined” people would hope I’d find embarrassing. The Texas’ness in me. The street dances and the rodeos. The smell of cow shit globbed on the foot rail at the stockyards. Grease and rocks and fried fish. Baby rabbits in shoe boxes—a surprise from my grandpa. Crawfishing with bacon on a string, my grandmother chasing my cousin around with a cigarette in one hand and a flyswatter in the other. “Y’all” and “yesterdy night” and horses and trail rides and thunderstorms. The dirtiest, most precious station wagon on the planet. Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr., and Big Red soda. My ancestors would kick my country girl ass for calling it soda.
And then I went back to work on a short story that I've left languishing, loveless for a year or more.