Hemingway once said something to the effect that someone standing over you while you write a letter to your girl is just as difficult as having a man stand behind you while fishing. The idea in what he was trying to say, I think, is that when writing you need to do it in a way where you are not worried about the metaphorical critic and watcher looking over your shoulder sighing painfully or expressing doubt or taking offense at the things that you write. You need to block that person out and write as purely as you possibly can.
Most recently I finished a short story about something that actually happened in my life. The story is about a group of friends during the very first night of mardi gras when the city is somewhat quieter than it normally would be. There are three guys and a woman. One of the guys is the boyfriend of the woman. The story revolves around the fact that the girl has left her boyfriend and the other friend passed out drunk in the back of their car while she and the other friend have sex in a motel room. This actually happened to me, I was the boyfriend.
I didn't find out about this until after I had broken up with this women. I was nonetheless devistated and am no longer friends with that person and haven't seen the girls since we broke up (it has been almost 20 years). While very painful, it is also good material for a short story.
As I've worked through the story and created new elements and etc., I have had to consistently fight the person fishing behind my back. It has been difficult to enter into the flow and rhythm of the story without nagging doubts as to whether certain aspects are too honest, to real for me and will expose some piece of me to readers. I have also had to work against the doubts that also come from wondering if the story is really up to what I want it to do. Does it carry the weight of the emotional aspects of it to carry the story beyond merely being an intrigueing situation. Is there enough yearning, enough angst to drive the reader forward?
All of my short stories have strong connections to personal experiences, but this one in particular has made me wonder how effective I have been at making sure there is no one fishing behind my back.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.