Okay, here goes:
Stream of consciousness... reminds me of Chicago... Larry and Susan’s apartment, their two big fluffy cats... (They called one of them “Phydeaux”--pronounced it “Fido”--)... and Larry saying, “I’ll loan you
Ulysses, you’ve got to read it...” And I had to take it, because I was, after all, a grad student... and even if Joyce wasn’t required reading at Andrews, I’d be going on for the doctorate, somewhere that required that sort of thing... So I took it, pasted on a fake-grateful smile, tried to read it... guess I read some of it... And I never told Larry that I hated every word...
If the counter on my word processor is correct, that’s exactly 100 words of stream of consciousness drivel. But maybe even that
is too structured... so I’ll try again:
Got to get back... two hours around the lake, can’t stand driving through Gary... Phydeaux doesn’t want to move... “Love you, sweet kitty, but I’ll never get the fur off this wool skirt...” Think I packed everything... “Carol, you still want to borrow
Ulysses, right?”... No, I don’t want to borrow it, never wanted to... Can’t say that, though... “Sure, I’ll try to get through it...” Probably won’t see them for a couple of months, maybe can read a few pages before then... Know I’ll hate it, can already tell... Got to check the bathroom, did I leave my toothbrush in there?
Ugh. It’s painful to write that way--almost as painful as reading it, I imagine. Everything I wrote is part of a real memory, but it would be meaningless to most readers. Stream of consciousness, in its purest (?) form is exclusionary. In order to really understand it, you either have to know the writer extremely well, or have footnotes.
Nevertheless, I think it might be possible to write something meaningful that way. I probably couldn’t do it, but a highly skilled writer might be able to tell a familiar story--a Bible story, perhaps--through the disordered thoughts of one of the characters. (Isaac, as Abraham prepared to sacrifice him... that might work...) In that case, the reader would know enough about the story already that it would make sense. But even though it would sound disordered, it would actually have to be very deliberate--every single word chosen for specific effect.
I like the idea of internal monologue much better, and I’m beginning to discover that it works well for the Challenge. And Jan, thanks so much for the lesson on POV. I’m so glad I happened upon your class that week! I started thinking about ways I could experiment with different points of views, and I think it’s sharpened my writing, especially during this very... well... challenging quarter!
I’m not sure that my Canada story qualifies as an “internal monologue” in every sense, but maybe it’s close?
Song of the Voyageur
I thought about writing this from a third-person POV, but then I realized it wouldn’t work. This particular story needed a single perspective--a perspective that was somewhat limited and focused. A seeker, you might call him--not a profoundly deep thinker, but quite deep compared to most of those around him. Anyway, I was pleased with this one. It just felt right to me, if that makes sense.
My India story also uses this technique (though in a different way), and I have a really unusual idea for the Europe story that I think will be closer to a true internal monologue. I’m not sure I can pull it off, or that anyone will like it if I do, but I’m going to try. I think the key, as you said, is to write about an interesting MC with a distinct voice. And when you’re writing for the Challenge, you only have to sustain it for 750 words. Anything much longer than that would be a much greater challenge!
But I’ve rambled long enough. I guess thinking about stream of consciousness encourages that!