This morning I read an article by the Australian writer, David Malouf.
His words struck me:
“In the end a writer is the work that appears under his name, not a personality or character; all that in time gets lost . . .
“It takes a little time to discover you may be a writer. What consolidates it for you, as they come (slowly sometimes) and accumulate, are the writings: poems, stories, the second novel rather than the first. . . it is the body of work that defines you and the body of work to which you are committed.”
For many years, I’ve been reluctant to call myself a writer, perhaps feeling I did not have a sufficient body of work. Perhaps not feeling I’d pushed myself hard enough or made a substantial contribution to the Malaysian literary scene. Now I realise calling oneself a writer is not critical, it’s the act of writing that matters.
David Malouf continues:
“Stories I tend to write ‘as they come’. That is, I make a start, and when I can no longer see how the story is to go on I set it aside, often for three or four years, until I see how it might finish. When I want to make a collection I go to the stories and see what I’ve got, what I can finish . . .”
The 3 new stories in 44 Cemetery Road have a similar history.
I started “44 Cemetery Road”, “Plane Load” and “The Year 1972” over 4 years ago but they stalled. When I was asked to write 3 new tales for this collection, I went back to those drafts and finished them. Unlike my other stories in the collection, my 3 new tales had a long gestation period.
What stories have you started but haven’t finished?