‘Fess Up Friday and Self-Doubt

I couldn’t really write this week. Last week I finished a short story, but strangely didn’t get the rush of enthusiasm I used to get in previous occasions. I brought my story to a final point, but some doubt lingers with me, as if I didn’t reach the closure I was expecting. Something like a feeling of not good enough.


My doubt got an echo and an oblique confirmation when I read Imani’s post on unsatisfying short stories in the Paris Review. She regrets that many stories she read there are conventional, middle-class character studies: “If you open any recent issue 9.9 times out of 10 you’ll get a story done in a conventional style, 1st or 3rd person, male narrator/protagonist.” She also points out a few stories where her reaction is only to shrug and wonder “so what?”.


I’m afraid I know this flaw only too well. My latest story is told by a 1st person, middle-class narrator and I’m not so sure what my story aimed to achieve, even now. One of the big questions here: why would anyone get interested in my weak, awkward, fickle narrator? I guess my story wouldn’t pass Imani’s standards.


Maybe I should try to work on projects with suspense and actions for a change (I have plenty of unfinished stories, so several of them fit the bill). Anyway, as I’m without a review group for the moment, if anyone of the Friday ‘Fessers want to share constructive criticism (and isn’t afraid of a sex scene and a lot of typos), please let me know.

4 thoughts on “‘Fess Up Friday and Self-Doubt

  1. I’d love to read it if you’re looking for a second opinion. Sometimes, it’s very, very hard to be the judge of one’s own work. You know the email address if you feel like sending it over.

  2. I get caught in this trap all the time…why on earth is my story supposed to be interesting? Does anything make it special? And so on and so forth until I hide the pages away.
    I think writing these types of conventional stories is really fundamental when we’re developing as a writer. I get the sense that its only when/if we master them that we might be able to experiment with style. I might be a bit conservative in my ideas of how to go about writerly development but I get wary of blooming writers who leap off into the deep ends of heavy experimentation. (Sure, there are some who are naturally good at it…but others work more carefully to understand basics and good story telling before they move on).
    I would also love to read your story and offer some thoughts – if you’d like! I think you already have my email but if not it’s verbivoresbooks@gmail.com

  3. Writer Reading, you’re right about balance! I just linked to your blog.

    Litlove, Verbivore, thanks for your offer. I’ll send you both the story (I’m correcting typos).

    Verbivore, your view on writing progressive build-up is so interesting. Stories shouldn’t be merely writing exercises, but something more significant. But I guess it’s about accepting that some stories have more weight than others… I’ll let you judge anyway.

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