Even the greats have few stories to tell,
Which they keep telling over and over
Until their voices grow hoarse
And then die away.
There’s no point in writing a story,
At least as far as I’m concerned,
Unless you came up with a killer concept,
One that would make people interested
By hearing it explained in a sentence.
Such concepts are so hard to come by
That you should always carry a notebook
In case they pop up when you’re outside.
Don’t store the idea in your mind;
You don’t realize how much stuff you forget
Until you have gone through the notes
That you have hoarded for many years.
I have stockpiled plenty of crazy ideas,
But most of them are unworkable,
Whether because I don’t want to research
Or because I haven’t done enough living,
So they just sit on the shelf
Like old wine bottles collecting dust.
Seriously, write your ideas down.
You need an uncluttered mind
To get in the zone when writing.
Classify your notes,
Order them chronologically
According to their place in a story.
Above all, don’t lose them;
After several years of neglect,
They may be worth more than gold.
That story about the ghost woman
Who falls in love with a living one
Had been waiting in my notes for years,
Until I figured out how it should be told.
The same is the case for many poems,
Like the one about the immortal warrior,
Or that one about interdimensional travels.
I even rewrote one of my old stories,
Shortened it, made it wear another costume,
Because I couldn’t figure out what to write.
I can only work on the stuff I connect with,
That may make me excited, laugh or cry,
And there are few things that move me at all.
I fear that one day I’ll need to build a house
But I will have run out of stone and clay.
I will need to escape, to lose myself
By living through another person’s skin,
But my mind will have turned barren.
Writing takes so much time and energy,
And requires a peculiar state of mind.
It doesn’t work if I have to fake it.
I have to take advantage of every chance.
The other problem is working on a story
Only for my enthusiasm to fade away.
I can never tell when that will happen,
And some concepts fail during execution.
None of the therapists solved my troubles,
Which are physical and inborn anyway,
Etched into the brain like depression
(It involves the amygdala, hippocampus,
and the dorsomedial thalamus.
Structural and functional abnormalities
Are found in the brain of depressed people).
They give out drugs for such problems,
But none of those helped either
(I had the impression that they try stuff,
Using the clients as guinea pigs).
Those drugs mostly made me overeat,
Which only worsened my mood.
The only therapy that works for me
Is processing my troubles through writing,
But I start way more poems and stories
Than those I end up finishing:
Most of my attempts leave me dry,
So I abandon them midway through.
The prospect of losing my only solution
Is a source of constant dread.
For now I keep the shadows at bay
By living through other people’s dreams,
Writing down all their fears and hopes,
Whether or not anyone reads the result,
But it would be nice to get paid,
Although I’d still need to keep a job.
Many of the writers that I met in courses
Wrote for status or to meet other people.
I do it as a way to keep myself alive.
Although nothing has felt as meaningful,
I’ve gone years without writing,
Because I thought it was ridiculous
To write stories about people’s troubles
When I barely care about humans.
I’m a loner, a high-functioning recluse.
If I were strong enough and had the means,
I would move out to the countryside
Or somewhere where I could be alone.
I’d go weeks without talking to anyone.
All my characters are versions of myself;
They wear costumes to talk to each other,
And they worry about what bothers me.
I rarely write about societal issues,
Because I don’t feel like I belong to any,
And most people sound like morons
When they diagnose the ills of society.
I can only tell you about the world
Where I live, which is very small.
For years I’ve read many books on writing,
And I put the notes together in a manual.
Generating original, killer concepts is key,
For that, many authors proposed ways
To get your internal juices going:
Write down a list of stuff you want to see.
Take the building blocks of a story you dislike,
To rearrange them into something you’d like.
Pull apart what you enjoy of your favorite stories.
Freewrite a hundred questions
About your personal life or the world,
To see if those worries are reflected
In the stories you have come up with.
Write your impressions, visions, dreams.
Reflect upon your most satisfying experiences,
Whether fictional or from your own life.
Write about what excites your imagination.
Write five things you are passionate about.
Brainstorm about the things you hate,
Things you love,
Best things you’ve ever done,
Worst things you’ve ever done,
The people you’ve loved,
Your bucket list,
The things you know,
What you’d like to know,
Areas of expertise,
People you’ve hated.
Think of something you wouldn’t tell anyone.
Write about problems that resonate with your own.
Elaborate on experiences that made you cringe.
Recall your worst humiliation, pain, or sorrow.
Write about your worst fears.
Write about the turning points in your life.
Write about the darkest things in your soul.
How would you live differently if you started over?
Have you ever had to face up to your mistakes?
Have you ever had to admit failure?
Are you prepared to let go of all the people
Who have disappointed you, betrayed you,
Left you feeling like a fool for believing in them?
Can you imagine living without regrets,
Without harboring grudges and resentments?
Have you ever had to find a way to go on?
Do you think that you deserve to be happy?
Have you ever been wrecked by the knowledge
That you are inadequate, that you can’t fix things,
That your limitations are evident for everybody?
Are you willing to acknowledge
The extent to which you’re a fraud,
A phony who has no real talent for anything?
You may not be able to answer these questions,
But if you haven’t written about it yet,
Then now is the time to do so.
I’m going through the second revision
Of that novel I wrote about the ghost lady.
The scenes I wrote at the office are a mess;
I’ve averaged around 70 notes to fix,
And they’ll require a third revision.
For me, narrative is about immersion:
I need to disappear into the narrator’s skin,
Which means getting excited, angry, sad, horny.
Obviously I can’t do that shit at work
(Getting blue balled is one of my nightmares).
It’s better to reserve my narrative writing
For when I’m alone and isolated,
Or else I’ll damage the quality of my work.
Writing poems at the office is fine, though,
Even if those poems are articles in poem form,
Like this stuff you are reading now.
If I’m not careful, I’m going to turn into a bore.
My job requires plenty of social interaction;
I don’t have the patience or endurance for it,
So I need to write to get away from people.
My point is that I can’t come up with concepts,
Or at least I have been dry for a good while.
If I had the free time now to write a novel,
I wouldn’t know what to write about,
And that’s really troublesome.
Anyway, thank you for your attention.‘I Wish I Were Wet’ by Jon Ureña
Stay tuned for the next episode.