Craig Medvecky is an American author who writes fiction and essays.
Yes, it’s true! I got hooked on writing in high school with help from a wonderful English teacher. By the time I went to college, I was determined to learn more. By sheer luck, I attended a college where Toni Morrison was teaching creative writing. THE Toni Morrison. Unfortunately, her classes were closed and students had apply for special permission to enroll. My applications were rejected three years in a row, so I never met Toni Morrison or heard anything she might have had to say about my writing. What a huge opportunity missed.
Instead I tried to learn creative writing from my literature classes. Modernism was in vogue then, and I read a lot of fiction in which the subject matter was the interior world of the mind. Being young, I assumed that everyone who celebrated the likes of James Joyce or Virginia Woolf for ‘recording the atoms as they fell’, would also celebrate my own lengthy interior expositions. Oh, how wrong I was. About a million words later, I crawled out from under my damp rock and went to school for contemporary writers. While there, I worked as a research assistant for a publishing mystery writer. She was truly generous with her time and helped me to accept that 1) my own life was in no way extraordinary or compelling subject matter, and 2) that the confidence to invent worlds came from research--either lived or historical.
But I still didn’t understand what a story was, really, or how to shape one.
Then I met another influential teacher who suggested that stories get characters back on track. He said that all stories--short or long, comic or serious, ancient or modern, high brow or low--share the common goal of dramatizing the existential crisis of lives interrupted. That one small idea was a lot to think about, but after testing it for a good long while, the concept started to make sense. Eventually, I stopped intellectualizing and started writing again. I let go of my unconscious bias toward modernist classics and focused on telling a story in whatever genre and voice felt natural to me, in the most engaging way I could muster. With a bit of luck and belief, I’ll have the next piece ready soon.