I spent a blissed-out couple of days at the Porches this past weekend, participating in Valley Haggard‘s writing retreat. As I confessed to our small group on the first day, I have been fastidiously avoiding a story that’s been poke-poke-poking me for the last three months. Because it is a story I lack the competence to write.

Or perhaps another way to describe it is as “the story that I’ve told myself a story about.” Although I am sure of the title, and of the last scene, I do not have the broad general or the small specific knowledge to portray one of its protagonists: an evangelical man.

I’m not a man. I’m not evangelical. My tongue mangles the word evangelical when I speak it aloud.

But! Here is the prompt from Valley that shifted my willingness to try to write the story. Admit to yourself you don’t think you can write the story. Then mutter to yourself: “If I WERE going to write this story, however, this is what I would say.”

Perhaps as you’ve already guessed, when I pretend I’m not really writing the story, just writing about what I would write, IF I were writing, which I am NOT, ohnonotmedon’tthinkI’mwritingI’mnotstoplooking! … then … a whole bunch of stuff pours out.

English: Maple sap being transformed to maple ...

English: Maple sap being transformed to maple syrup at a sugar shack in Pakenham, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a messy pour, and my knowledge gaps are like sticky pools of syrup. But I’ve set little “find out more” notes adrift in these pools, and now when I need a break from the writing, I hop on Wikipedia and start to clean them up.


One response to “Incompetence

  1. Oh…this is wonderful, Leslie. The only thing I would change in this blog post are the words “messy pour.” The words of your story came out crisp and rich and like something I’d love to eat if I could eat stories, which I technically can’t, so I’ll have to wait for you to finish writing instead.

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