Hello there and welcome to week 6.
The prompt this week is: dead-end jobs.
500 words, due Thursday 8 pm EST, stories posted Friday. Playlist will be up tomorrow.
Six weeks of Mercurial Stories. Six weeks of thinking of new prompts, trying to get the word out, and writing my own response. It has proven to be an interesting side project for me. Besides for the act of coordinating this project, I also get the opportunity to explain to others the reasoning behind this endeavor.
Like millions of others, I have always wanted to be a writer and like millions of others, I have found that the reality of writing is much different from the concept. I am the type of writer who has a solid talent, decent ideas, but have yet to meet my own projected output (you fellow scribes know what I am talking about, the whole “by the time I am thirty, I will have written five thousand stories and won the Man Booker and Pulitzer prizes, in the same year” thing). I mean, Terry Gross has never interviewed me. Not even once.
I have been through some massive nonsense in the past few years and the insight it provided about who I am and how I write was phenomenal. I could not finish a story because I was suffering for a crippling combination of low self-esteem and over-idealization of writing. Add to that recipe the fact that I am a language teacher, well, you get a rather promising and grammatically tidy first paragraph.
I read a lot of short stories that could have been written by me, had I persisted past those initial feelings of self-loathing. They would make A+s in any English class. And yet, for all their lovely syntax, they are not noteworthy stories. They are stories that fill literary journals but they are not stories that linger in the collective imagination. They are sincere stories written by serious introverts who are so desperate to be Writers that they forget to write. And unfortunately they also end up mangling that true voice that distinguishes one storyteller from another.
Mercurial Stories is an attempt to knock Writing down from its pedestal. I want to make that W lowercase so that it is no longer a proper noun but a working verb. I want to give people a chance to participate in this writer’s gym where the point is to get stronger as a writer. I want participants to forget the idea of writing for fame and glory, to abandon the shitty notion of perfection. Read the prompt, write something in response, and let it go so you can go through the process again next week. And the week after that. As the late great Ray Bradbury said: