10 November 2007

an old draft revisited

I was talking about writing this morning with a friend. Later, I thought about a short story I wrote 20 years ago. I always thought of it in draft form, not anywhere near completion. I had to dig through my desk and file cabinets to find it.

I remember that this was writing for a class, but i don't remember the specific assignment. It was an advanced expository writing course, and the instructor focused on comparing various types of writing as a means of looking at the specific characteristics of expository writing. Although the objectives of this class were to write essays, it appears that for this assignment my final product was a work of fiction.

I had forgotten about the various versions of the story that I wrote. There was a newspaper article, an in-depth obituary, a portrayal of one of the characters, and two versions that I remember envisioning as I wrote them in an a cinematic way, as on-screen interviews. In one version each character spoke separately. In the other version, the same comments are intertwined as if they were both telling the same story at the same time. The writing was based on real characters and events, although I had only heard of them as stories. I didn't have the facts or the first-hand knowledge to write this as non-fiction. But, by playing with the various forms, I could understand each form better, as well as experiment with the narrative point of view.

I wish that I could say that my writing then was as good as I remembered it. The reality, however, is that the dialog is stilted, the characters not fully revealed, and there were tons of grammatical mistakes. Don't expect one of these versions to ever be displayed here.

I do like the idea of this though. While the final product was intended to be two separate but overlapping monologues, the overall effect of reading the different forms is that a much clearer view of the main character and the events occurs.

I think I might re-write this story again, but I'll have to decide if I want to keep it in its present form, move on to an different narrative perspective, or try to incorporate pieces of each form.

The other thing I realized from reading this old copy (typed on a typewriter), is that I still make the same typo errors I was making 20 years ago.


bloglily said...

I hate to think how I would feel if I dug up something I'd written twenty years ago. But how wonderful and funny to see that the same typos still live in your fingers! xo, BL

Cam said...

BL -- I have plenty from 20 years ago that I would cringe if I read. I was mildly surprised that the cringe factor was as low as it was on this.

Now, what would certainly be an embarrassement would be if I were blogging 20 - 25 years ago. Oh my! I'm sure my comments would have been impetuous, probably often raw and biting, and much that I would not want my name put to. It isn't that my political or philosophical positions have changed too much -- they haven't -- but I love what we gain as we age: that much doesn't merit historionics, and that one is more effective sometimes by being quiet, than by vocerifous commentary.