Sunday, November 04, 2007

Morning Stories

I've got a dozen stories in various stages of completion (or incompletion, really), and its not something that I'm particularly proud of. Trying to settle down to write something, anything - I've a bigger project bubbling, but the problem is that it's only bubbling - I went back to one of them this morning, and, importantly, got to the end. You can write a story at one sitting, but I'm generally a two sitting person - since the 2nd half is perhaps the more important, after the scene setting has been done, you need to come to a conclusion. The story I was working on this morning is a particular example because its quite technical in a number of ways. For a start its in the 2nd person, secondly its got to intertwining strands/characters that only come together at the end, and thirdly its based upon an "imagined" history - a "What if?" scenario if you like and so has its fair share of (recent) historical detail. Because it is an imagined story - it couldn't have happened like this - and it involves real (famous) people it brings up a lot of questions. I was on jury service for the last two weeks, and it got me thinking a lot about truth, and about "stories" - or how we make narratives of events that happened, and what we keep in and leave out. In this story, for instance, which is set in 1983 and is partly set during the recording of an episode of "Top of the Pops" there are probably a dozen "source texts" I could have read to find out more details to make the story truer - yet because the actual meeting in the story didn't happen, probably couldn't have happened, such veracity seems ridiculous. The truth in the story is true only to itself. A.S. Byatt in the Guardian yesterday(it doesn't appear to be online yet) talks about her access to their Digital Archive, and her character's seeing details of Edward VIII's abdication on newspaper bills - which, given the less prurient reporting of the time, is unlikely. Yet, my story has a humbler relationship with the truth, its fed through my memories of the early 80s and "Top of the Pops" and doesn't really require the insider insight - so much as my own imagining of it. How arrogant of me! But, I guess I don't see it like this, I once wrote a story about Martin Amis living upstairs from the narrator - which he patently never did either. Perhaps I prefer this kind of pseudo history, Moorcock's used it a lot I know - and it seems particularly right for popular culture where much is invented anyway, and the myth is far more interesting regardless.

The story will still need some work of course, but getting to the end was pleasing. And I might try and attempt to finish a few others in the pile.

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