It took a long time, but I finally finished printing out all my stories in May. There are a few stragglers – a couple of drafts that for whatever reason I don’t have saved on my laptop, and anything I wrote before I was thirteen or so. But everything is there that should be…
…including all the mistakes I have made over the years. The poor grammar, the missing apostrophes, and my god the flowery language. If there was an opportunity for me to say something in three words you can be assured that I chose to say it in thirty.
The funny thing is that I distinctly remember thinking the more convoluted I could make a sentence, the better a writer I was. The density of the prose is what makes a story sing, right?
It took me a while to get out of that habit – years, probably. Sometimes I catch myself circling that literary drain again and I’m reminded of that teenage writer who thought there was nothing better than the flourish of his own pen.
I was going to take a few examples and slot them in here so you could see what I’m talking about, but once it’s out there online, I can’t take that shit back. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Now I just have to organise what I’ve written, and I can concentrate on the new stuff.
Word count – 5,300
The Woman in the Room is a dramatic tale about a man dealing with his bed-ridden mother who is dying of cancer, and his struggles over whether or not euthanasia is his only option.
Back in the late seventies this was likely a much more controversial narrative thread than it is these days – not that readers are blasé about euthanasia in fiction, although to some degree that is probably true – but this story simply lacks the punch that I think it once did.
The Woman in the Room is the last story in Night Shift, and unfortunately it is probably not the final kick to the gut you are looking for or expecting from King. It’s a perfectly serviceable tale, just not a particulary memorable one.
Unfortunately my short story More of a Wednesday Girl didn’t place in that contest that I was waiting for at the end of February, but I’m all right with that. It was nice to be shortlisted, seeing as it has been so long since I’ve even been that close to success. And more chances will come my way, I just need the right story and the right judge looking at it.
Obviously, the coronavirus has been all-encompassing this month, and rightly so, but the downtime at home has given me (and will hopefully continue to give me) the opportunity to catch up with some writing.
I finished a short piece called Paid in Full, in Plastic, which was a lot of fun and turned out quite well. It’s the fifth tale I’ve completed in 2020 and the 100th short story (upwards of 1,000 words) I’ve done since I started keeping detailed records of my writing exploits in 1995 – some of which are even pretty good!
It’s nice to hit a milestone like that, and I just hope that the inspiration can continue in these strange and uncertain times.
I’ve written a few flash pieces this month, all to fairly strict deadlines, but that is as much of a challenge as the writing process itself.
Row Boat Resuscitation is a dramatic tale about a sinking ship… although I’m not married to that title. Filling in the Blanks is fiction, but it does take a lot from my experience with my grandma. And Maternity Test is about a teenager’s prospect of meeting his mother for the first time. They are all very short, but they each offer a good platform to jump from.
I’ve started another short piece as well, which will see conclusion over the next couple of days, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.
I also got word that More of a Wednesday Girl – a short story I wrote last year – has been shortlisted in a contest that I had all but forgotten about, which is a nice end to the month. It’s been far too long since I had any competition success, so fingers crossed there.
I’ve come to a decision about Slipwater. I am giving myself until my birthday next year – that’s May 7, 2021 – to find traction with a professional agent or publisher. If I still have made no headway by that time I’m going to self-publish the novel.
I know, I have always been opposed to going down that route. It’s the easy way, right? Any idiot can do that. There are no checks at any point in the process, and certainly nobody to tap you on the shoulder to tell you what you’ve written is trash.
Yeah, I know.
But I wrote the novel for a reason, and it’s good. I believe in it, and I want others to have the chance to read it, and if I have to swallow my pride and do what I swore I never would… then so be it.
Of course, I would much prefer to do this the traditional, tried and tested way, so if anybody in the business is reading this, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.
In other news I wrote a dark flash piece called I Am the Cheese. It’s something I put together very quickly – in about an hour actually – that isn’t particularly polished, but has potential down the line once I give myself the room to mess around with it.
I have sent off a few pieces to contests this month. I was going to give myself a budget each month for this, to get me in the habit of sending stuff away, so that may be an idea I can run with. I’ll have to see how it shakes out.
Well, I promised three short stories by Christmas Day but only managed to deliver one by the end of the year. I finished Last Chance Lagoon just in time to close out the year on a high note.
I think it was always going to be the one I finished first, but at 1400 words it’s a little longer than I had originally expected. It’s good – I like it – and I did enjoy presenting it to my captive audience, who seemed quite taken by being the star of the show.
This is my final post of the year, but I have big ideas for 2020. There are many things I want to accomplish in the next twelve months and beyond, and I’m going to get on them right away.
Happy New Year, folks!
First of all, Happy Holidays. I hope you all had a good time, and got what you wanted and deserved.
Unfortunately, I didn’t finish any of those short stories that I had tasked myself to do. All three of them are in the home stretch, and I reckon if I had put down the chocolates and the turkey I may have found the time to have completed then over the last couple of days… but alas, the call of the festivities was much too great.
While I may not have met my self-imposed deadline, I have manufactured a few decent tales that I otherwise would not have created. I think they will turn out pretty well – it’s just finding the inclination at this time of year to put a bow on them.
2020 is just around the corner now. I aim to make it a good year for me and mine, and I hope you all do the same for you and yours.
Not as much as I would have liked, that’s what I’ve done this week.
Christmas is not just one day or even one long weekend – it’s a whole damn month. I’m certainly not complaining – I love Christmas – but it does create a bit of a dip in the work rate.
Having said that I did manage to take my second of three tales over a thousand words, and it – like the first one – is almost ready to bring home.
I did promise myself that I’d have them completed in time for the 25th. It will be tight, but I’ve got a week off work leading up to the big day so I’ll get them done, even if I have to stop wrapping presents to do it.
I got to thinking about killing Hitler this morning – not in a real world sense, of course, but a conversation about the Christmas armistice of World War One got my creative juices flowing. I think there is some comedy to be mined in that scenario.
I am slowly plodding along with my challenge tales, but this week has been mostly about the mystery of Last Chance Lagoon. The only trouble is that it has now bloated to over 1100 words, which is a wee bit longer than I had anticipated it would be. Still, every story is fluid until you put a cap on it, so I won’t stress too much about it. And if it wants (or needs) to grow from there, all I can do is put the words down.
The other two are still moving forward, although not with the same fervour. Juggling several pieces at once is bound to have its ebbs and flows, so I’m not worried about it. This time next week it would not surprise me if the words were coming thick and fast for one of the others.
Word count – 9,700
There is an interesting idea buried in here about reincarnation, but it takes so very long to get to anything interesting in Sometimes They Come Back that it’s already an uphill battle to win my attention over, and it never manages to do it.
The second act is fine and the most involving part of the story, but it is flanked by a beginning that takes forever to get where it is going, and an end that doesn’t really pay off what has happened before.
This is the halfway point of Night Shift, and although the entries have been mostly positive so far, Sometimes They Come Back is a let down – not least of all because they managed to make a trilogy of movies out of it. It is one of the longest entries so far in this collection and certainly one of the weaker ones.
Not Recommended ⇓