screaming whine child

I Cannot Finish This Short Story

I am in a world of shit now.  I am trying my damnedest to finish this story I’ve been writing, about the military using little demons to disarm bombs.  The problem is I have no fucking idea how to end it.  Everything is too cheesy, too easy, too consequential, too non-conclusive, too pro-war, too anti-war.  It’s always something that doesn’t make it feel right, no matter what I think of.  I sit here staring, hoping for some idea to germinate.  And if one does, it’s just a weed and it gets knocked down.  I might say chuck it, but good artists finish things.  And I’m too determined not to finish it.  I feel like finishing it would be a cop out.  It’s not a turd I’m polishing.  I know the beginning is fine.  But nothing seems to match the ending.  It’s not like it becomes one of those trite knock-offs.

Maybe I could let it incubate more, but I’ve already given it enough time.  I don’t want to give up.  I don’t want to be a quitter.  But I’m afraid if I keep pounding my head against the wall on this, I’m going to start to bleed.  And it also counters my ideology of producing publishable material.  But then, so does staring into nothingness and getting no ideas.  Maybe I’m being too hard on myself?  Sometimes I try and tell myself “just write, don’t worry if it’s bad or good, just get words on the page”.  But I’m an outliner, I start with my idea and flesh it.  If I don’t have an idea I’m drawing in the air.  This is why I hate short stories.  I just can’t fit so many logistics into a 5,000 word story.

I don’t know enough of what I’m writing about.  I’ve never been in the military, I feel like the story is starting anti-war, but ending pro-war.  I don’t about how secret plans are carried out or procedures or meetings.  I don’t even know where you sleep.  I feel like I’ll be offending everyone in the military if I write this.  This seems to be my problem all the time when it comes to short stories.  I write a crappy boxing story, even though I don’t know anything about boxing.  I don’t know about apple orchards, Roman times.  I keep writing about strippers even though I’ve never been in a strip club.

The beginning is great, it’s fine, it’s catchy, it’s compelling.  But that’s all I have, a beginning.  I don’t have an end to go along with it.  Or at least the endings I think of don’t match it.  I’m either not trying hard enough, or all the endings are blithe and trite, like all the Gremlins knock-offs of the eighties.  I have a beginning, but I don’t have a character to go along with it.  That’s the thing wherein the story is formed — the character.  A plot drives the beginning, but a character drives the ending.  I need to think of a character.

I think I gotta put this one to bed, even though it kills me to do so.  It’s just not the time for this story to come back from the dead.  I gotta think of some stories that are about shit I know, so I can actually finish them and complete them.  So they don’t fester in limbo and development hell.  I hate to do that, but this is just not productive.  I don’t know. AS a write, do you think it’s better to bag your head against the wall, trying to get a piece right?  Or move on, so you can produce copy?

Anyway, here’s a cat to pay my whining tax.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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