“The Donkey of Vincento” is the single stupidest story I’ve ever written. In my mind it goes flying past “Light-Years Ahead of His Time” by…well by light-years. But this story makes the list for one very simple reason: The whole project almost tanked during these two weeks. I almost gave up. I remember this pretty clearly. I was tearing myself apart trying to write something good and nothing was coming except this stupid idea for a…I don’t even know what…a concept story written as a poor translation of a fairy tale from a made up place. Sort of like a bad joke crossed with a pointless story (for the nth time I also feel obligated to point out that all of the “foreign language” in this story is nothing short of complete gibberish. I actually translated gibberish into other languages using babelfish, then retyped it incorrectly. Part of me wants to believe that this resulted in perfect Cantonese…but that’s probably not what happened). And I was about ready to just say to hell with it and start ignoring my deadlines. But I didn’t. And the story turned out to be not completely horrible. A lot of readers actually enjoyed it. Somehow.
And so it makes number ten because of that. Because a lot of this blog is intended for fellow writers and a lot of the e-mails I get are from fellow writers and any lessons I learned from this past year I feel I should try to pass on. So here’s the lesson this stupid donkey story taught me: Sometimes you write crap. Not only that, but sometimes you’re supposed to be writing crap. If I had strained really hard to make this a touching literary-minded story with great crisp writing and all that, it would have turned out horrible. Because that’s not what this story is. This story is silly and light and a fairy tale.
I guess I have three points. First, it’s okay to not write well. If you’re stuck, just keep going, do your best, know that you can always start another story once you’ve finished the current one. Two, don’t force your stories to be what they’re not. And three, your readers can sometimes bring things to life in a way you never expected. Seriously. Some people liked this one.
So coming in at number ten we have Penolope’s final surge of delight at the end of “The Donkey of Vincento” when she declares in a language that I totally made up out of nothing:
“Maecenas odio ante consectetuer pullazo, uscevitale risus mauris sollicitudin; phasellus statione, libernecanto adipiscing gravid acciastona!”