stories as crows

Stories are like crows circling in and out of sight in the mist overhead: there’s no simple distinction between one of them and another, and the precise flight path of any one particular crow is known only to itself.

crows (or maybe rooks) in the mist

But writing a story is like taming some crows, and training them to stand in a row, wings held unnaturally in semaphore poses. There’s no more flapping and swooping, no more possibilities. To write a story down is to eliminate all other options, all the other paths not taken, to choose one and shut your eyes to all the rest.

The line of domesticated crows shuffles and fidgets, eyeing the author accusingly. Standing still is not soaring, never whirling, nor gliding. The crows are restless; the writer has made them forget how to fly. Writing is destroying, the wanton wrecking of potential beauty, latent arcs of winged flight.

I have written a story of a hundred thousand words this year, and I mourn for all the better stories I did not write, and can no longer even imagine.