Why Am I Writing This Boring Story?

pirate story book

I struggle to find story ideas. Occasionally, I find myself re-imagining something that happened in my family (as do all writers). Or something that might have happened, prompted by a remark somebody made. As I carry on along one of these drab avenues, I might think to myself, Nobody is going to be interested in this.

Sometimes, such such pedestrian stories (in my view) have been written in response to our writing group’s ‘homework’ topic. (‘That’ll do.’ ‘I have to get something out; the meeting’s next week.’) Later, some aspect of the tale has prompted me to polish it up and sent it off to somebody’s call for submissions.

Strangely, these are often the stories that have been chosen for publication by websites or anthologies (usually those with the word ‘literary’ somewhere on their home page). One I had little hope for when I sent it off as a second submission (for a reduced entry fee) is runner-up in a contest and about to be published in the resulting anthology, netting me the most substantial payment I’ve received so far for any win or story sale. (More about that nearer paperback publication in December.)

I’m wondering if I’ve perhaps spent longer editing and polishing such stories to make up for what I felt was their absence of ‘zing’. Or maybe I’m starting to get a better feel for those publishers likely to look favourably on what I think of as my ‘family’ stories.

But I’m not particularly analytical when reading others’ stories either. If I can’t always identify why I like those stories that I enjoy, it isn’t surprising that I can’t assess my own either. A shortlisting (and even a longlisting) is almost as encouraging as a placing when there can be so few winners among so many submissions.

If only we could know how far our submissions make it through the judging process before falling by the wayside…

two covers; Scribble magazine

I subscribe to a quarterly UK short story magazine called Scribble which invites readers to vote on each issue’s stories. Since this was the first magazine that published my writing (an essay on my writing day) and it has, since then, placed me in its annual competitions, I have some affection for it. I try to send in my vote each month, but I can’t pronounce with any authority on why I choose the stories I vote for. My most utilised praise is a vague, ‘It was fun’.

In spite of many rejections, I have learned to hope and to not dismiss any of my efforts entirely. A story may have fallen many times into that vacuum of non-response and yet it may still find a home somewhere.

You have to be in it to win it (or even to get longlisted).

###

blank pages flying to book

###

What have you achieved that you originally thought hopeless?

###

Copyright © 2022 cathy-cade.com – All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “Why Am I Writing This Boring Story?

  1. I can relate to much of what you say.
    Much of my writings are meant to raise people’s consciousness, to open their eyes and force them to see that there are other realities in the world besides their own. Too many people prefer to stay in their warm, little, comfortable bubbles. I love popping their bubbles. My favorite pastime is blowing people’s minds with simple truths that they otherwise would not have thought of.

    The one huge barrier that stands in my way is, I’m not the type of person that people are drawn to. I don’t say this to put myself down. I’m very honest about things and am very aware of how I am. Much of it is not my fault; having been abused since infancy and throughout my childhood. For two and a half decades I lived in a dysfunctional and toxic environment which severely stunted my ability to flourish as an adult.

    I was severely neglected during the whole of my formative years. I think on one level people understand on some level that the formative years are important, but they don’t truly know how excruciatingly necessary they are and if those years have been torn from you, this can cripple a person for life.

    Because my formative years were stolen from me, my first language was not English, even though I was raised in an English speaking home. My grandmother was the only one who spoke to me, but she only spoke Italian. Imagine that! I learned Italian before I spoke English.

    Aside from being physically and sexually abused, my mom was a Narcissist and she loved playing psychological games with me to punish me. This has left me with permanent scars, even as an adult.

    During the course of my childhood I was gifted with multiple concussions. This left me with the inability to control my emotions and I need to take medication everyday to keep me from verbally ripping people’s heads off. That is NOT an exaggeration. I have other problems as a result of the concussions as well.

    To add to the mix, I have Asperger’s. Contrary to popular belief it is NOT a disorder or disability.

    “But wait a minute! It’s listed as a disorder in the DSM-5. Look at all those research scientists who’ve studied it. They’ve even studied the brain wave patterns of those with Asperger’s and they are definitely different than that of us beautiful, normal, perfect people. How can you say it’s not a disorder?”

    Very easily. First, every one of these research scientists who’ve studied the brains of those with Asperger’s – are you ready for this? – They aren’t on the spectrum! What do they know? They don’t know the first thing about what it’s like.

    Oh, yeah…..regarding those brain waves? Let’s take someone who’s left-handed. Did you know that the brain waves of those who are left-handed are different? Do you know why? The difference in brain activity has NOTHING to do with having a disorder. It simply means that the brain is overcompensating for living in a world where 90% of the population is right-handed. The world is made for right-handers. I’m left-handed myself. My brain is simply working overtime to help me. This is all done subconsciously of course. So, in light of that, should left-handers be labeled as disabled? What do you think?

    As someone with Asperger’s, it’s the same thing. My brain is simply working overtime, behind the scenes, to help me in a world that’s set up for you beautiful, normal, perfect people. My brain activity is going to be different than that of 90% of the population.

    “Okay, then if you say that Asperger’s isn’t a disorder, why bring it up in relation to your childhood?”

    Simple. Those of us on the spectrum – no matter where on the spectrum we are – deal with sensory overload everyday of our lives. Our senses are magnified exponentially. This meant for me that all the abuse I received as a child, and that started in my infancy, made it especially traumatic for me. Throughout my childhood I felt as if I were on the edge of insanity.

    I mention all of this to point out that when I finally left home, how do you think I appeared to others? When I say I would have gotten more care and love if I had been raised by a pack of wolves, I’m not too far off. I was horribly bullied all through school and when I left home, because I acted so differently, I continued to be bullied by other adults. There were even a couple of times when I was beaten and spit on – by adults. I feel as if I’ve been surrounded by 5th graders my whole life.

    Now, I mention ALL of this to say this: Because of the abuse and the concussions – which, by the way, had changed my personality for the worst – has never endeared me to people. People have never really liked me. And, let’s not forget the Asperger’s. That turns people off and I’m avoided because of it. You don’t want to catch my cooties.

    So, I started this blog. Why? Because of all of the above, I don’t attract people. I have this voice and no one wants to hear it. Am I wasting my time? Probably. I could speak and write with all the reasoning in the world, but no one wants to hear it because it’s coming from a weirdo. On the other hand, someone who is beautiful, normal and perfect who speaks and writes idiocy, most will gladly hear and read it. After all, they aren’t weirdos, right?

    It makes me sad, but this is what I’ve lived with my entire life. I think people are weird. I’m glad I’m not a people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember my mum, who was left-handed, telling us how her teacher used to rap the hand with a ruler whenever she wrote or drew with her left hand. Fortunately, my left-handed son found that things have moved on since then. When I had my dyslexic daughter assessed at the point of sitting her GCSEs at the age of 15 (dyslexia wasn’t recognised by our education authority back then) she said to me, ‘I am glad I’m dyslexic, Mum. I thought I was thick.’
      My ‘high function autistic’ grandson (apparently that’s on the Aspergers spectrum) has just started school. At least his mainstream school will understand when he has a meltdown and not just put him on the ‘naughty step’.
      Things are improving, but it seems to take a generation or so each time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Meltdowns will be the next thing I discuss regarding being on the spectrum. They are misunderstood because most don’t understand why they happen. I think it’s great that he won’t be punished for what is normal and necessary for someone on the spectrum.
        I love what your daughter said about being glad just knowing she was dyslexic and not that she was the idiot she thought she was.
        I remember when a teacher of mine was walking past my desk in school. She put my paper at an angle and I watched her as she walked away, not understanding why she did that. At first I was really put off that she did that. You better believe I put the paper straight and continued writing!
        There’s something I have NEVER understood. Everyone seems to think that left-handed people have problems smudging their work while they write. That has never happened to me and I can’t imagine how it ever could for others.
        I keep looking at the paper and where my fingers are located and I think,
        Anyone left-handed who messes up while writing must be the sloppiest writers or drunk. I just don’t see how it could happen.
        As far as attitudes improving, we have a LOOOOONG way to go. The bottom line is that even though science may prove otherwise, society will have a harder time changing their ideas about things. It’s always been that way.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I think we need an entire evening and a bottle of wine to fully cover this question. The thing that has surprised me over and over again is that just when I think no one is reading and it’s time to find another hobby, someone pops up from obscurity and acknowledges my writing and I’m drawn back in as a bee to honey. I suppose that’s why it’s important to acknowledge each other, comment on our each other’s blogs, and encourage one another. I love the way you write Cathy. Hugs, C

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for that boost to my confidence 🙂
      I have read that blogging is in decline, but I suspect it will survive. I’ve made some stalwart virtual ‘friends’ since joining the blogosphere.
      (And I’m with you on that ‘bottle of wine’ thought.🍷🍷)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Omg I totally relate to this. So many times I’ve felt like my stories were silly, but those exact stories were the ones picked for publication. Heck, I thought I was writing a lame novel and someone wanted to publish it. I’ve since written five more manuscripts (which I felt more confident in), and haven’t even gotten a bite. Funny how it goes eh?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Isn’t it? My recent unexpcted success has galvanised me into reviving some of my old stories for competitions. I’ve even revived a couple of old blog posts from the days before I had followers (other than my writing group… sorry guys, you’ll have a couple of re-reads to come…)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I post blogs once or twice a month but I write a report each week about the local u3a cycling group, it usually gets over 100 views, one week it was over 600. I also write short stories for the u3a Writing Group and so far one published novel.
    The subject matter is always a problem, inspiration often seems to be asleep on the job when I most need it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Some of those writing group prompts are a struggle to incorporate, but I was shortlisted in Writing Magazine for one of those stories (Together Forever) and another won me publishing fees in an anthology as a runner up (Giving Up). Once the prompts have been satisfied, I can take out the more irrelevant bits that I shoe-horned in to meet the criteria.
    But I do struggle to think up weekly blog posts…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a local group – we meet once a month. Pushed by one of our number we published a collection of our short stories… and since then we’ve put together four more.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.