For me, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of writing is the question of where the stories come from. I don’t imagine for a moment that there is a definitive answer to this question. Henry Miller, for example said that he believed that all stories already exist and are floating around in the ether where only those privileged to be writers can see them; and in return for that gift, they are charged with the responsibility of writing them down so that we can all share them. Ian McEwan, on the other hand, said what he most enjoyed about writing were the surprises. Every now and then, he would find that he had written a scene or created a character or even something as small as “a felicitous coupling of noun and adjective” and it was the fact that this event was not premeditated that brought him a sudden and unexpected joy. But the question still remains, where do these serendipitous creations come from?
I’m sure everyone who writes, or tries to write, will have their own theory, based on a narrative that suits their particular frame of reference. In my case, I describe the act of writing as a journey into the void – or perhaps, more prosaically, the unconscious. Now, I know that the subconscious is not, strictly speaking, a void; but since we often don’t know what is down there, it resembles one. And while, as Miller suggests, the stories might actually exist, fully formed, in that realm, it has been my experience that a trip to the void will not always deliver the joyful surprises that Ian McEwan so fondly describes.
This collection, then, contains some of my less successful journeys into the void. In most cases, the story is lacking in some way. Perhaps it is incomplete; or the voice I have chosen or the point of view is out of harmony with the subject; or simply the words are clumsy or the story, as written, is just not that interesting; but I have collected them here in the hope that, one day, I will be able to return to the void and discover what I have missed.