Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm in a Dark Gymnasium

This morning I came across this Dan Chaon quote, which I read a few years ago and have always remembered for its comparison of writing short stories to novels (the former, says Chaon, is like going into a dark room, whereas the latter is like going into a dark gymnasium):

"To be perfectly honest, I found the transition into novel writing extremely hard. I was under contract with Ballantine to deliver a novel after Among the Missing, and I'd written a one-page proposal/summary, but I really had no idea how to proceed. As a short-story writer, I usually just start at the beginning and write through to the end. At first that's what I thought a novel would be like. I think that the way that I write stories is by instinct. You have some basic ideas — a character, or an image, or a situation that sounds compelling — and then you just feel your way around until you find the edges of your story. It's like going into a dark room… you stumble around until you find the walls and then inch your way to the light switch. With a novel, it's more like you're in a dark gymnasium, or a dark field. You can't stumble around blindly as easily and find your way."

I'm currently in that dark gymnasium, trying to find my way.

5 comments:

Ethel Rohan said...

And when you find your way and flip that switch the light will burn bright.

Do it, word by word.

Jason Jordan said...

I really like that analogy. Good luck!

Andrew Roe said...

Thanks, Jason.

Ethel, you're so right. Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page...

Burma家銘ege said...

Necessity is the mother of invention.............................................................

David H said...

I guess you just stumble and stumble.