Let’s get this straight. When you write stories, the ideas don’t come from you; they come from the ether. You’re not a writer; you’re a radio. You might think you’re making things up but you’re not. You’re listening to them as they come in over the airwaves. You’re making sense of the signal and recording what you hear. You are, in short, an appliance.
Like all radios, you come equipped with dials. One takes you through the channels. What do you want to hear? It’s all out there: literary, crime, science fiction, romance. Some channels are single-minded; others broadcast many things at once. All you have to do is tune in, zone out and write.
Before you know it – perhaps before you want it to be – the programme is over. But you haven’t finished with the equipment yet. Writing your story down is just the start; now you have to revise it. Creating subsequent drafts means accessing all the other dials on your radio. Everything’s adjustable: tone and volume, reverb and pitch. There’s even a graphic equaliser that lets you track a character’s emotional arc from beginning to end. Some say this is the best part. I say take those dials and turn them all up until they read MAXIMUM.
Even when your story’s been submitted and accepted it isn’t over. Now it’s time to edit. This is where you discover what you thought was just a radio is also a sampling machine. It re-records and plays back. It cuts and it pastes. It’s got all the buttons you need make the perfect mix tape. So that’s what you do. You trim. You attenuate. You reorder for effect and cut for length.
Finally you’re done. The story is ready. Ready for what? Why, for broadcast, of course. So you press the one button on your radio that, up to now, you haven’t dared touch. It’s the button marked TRANSMIT. After that, there’s only one thing left to do.
Hope someone’s listening.