I haven’t printed out my writing for a long time – it’s just not the way I work best. I don’t have any need to have my work on paper, taking up space, and I haven’t edited that way since I was a teenager.
Last night The Girlfriend© asked to read one of my stories as it has been some time since she had done so. Always eager for an audience, I thought I would oblige and print one out for her, but 13 pages into a 22 page short story, my printer ran out of ink.
No problem, I thought. I went to one of my local supermarkets and spent £15 on a replacement cartridge… only to find that when I installed it, it didn’t work. I’ve now spent the last several hours trying to fix a problem I shouldn’t really have had in the first place!
Suffice to say, it’s been a waste of an afternoon, and I still don’t have anything to show for it. I think I may go back to using a typewriter and ribbons; I never had these problems working the old-fashioned way.
Although I haven’t officially committed to completing one particular story yet, it looks like Flowers for Mother is the one that is gaining the most traction – it’s certainly the one that I have spent the most time with over the last few days.
I have put together a beginning that I am happy with, and the tone is coming along nicely, so I’m over last week’s initial hump where I really wasn’t sure what I was doing. If I reach 1000 words with a short story I’m writing, it usually ends up going somewhere. When it ends up going somewhere is a different matter, but I feel very comfortable with this one at the moment.
The attitude of the central character actually reminds me a lot of what I did with a short story many years ago called Check-Out, so you could say that what I’m doing here is a spiritual successor of sorts to that piece.
All right, this is going to be the last time that I write about starting or continuing yet another story… at least for a while. I am generally fairly comfortable spinning several plates at once – and I’m certainly happy to at least be writing something this year – but I’d like to get some stuff out of the way before I become overwhelmed. It’s been a while since I’ve ran, so let’s try walking first.
I have had this pseudo-stalker idea for a while – one of those things that I have allowed to percolate for months, or perhaps even years. I’ve never done anything with it. In fact, until this week I had never even written anything down for it. It was just all rattling around in my head. And then as Mother’s Day approached, I was looking for an idea to hit, and I found myself thinking about this one again.
It’s tentatively titled, Flowers for Mother, and is currently being told in second person – a viewpoint I don’t have too much experienced with, but one that feels correct and appropriate for the story I’m trying to tell. I haven’t written much of it, and I think the tone still needs to be massaged a little to get the most out of the situation, but I’m getting there, and when I do there’s going to be a good story at the end of it.
It’s been a while since I submitted anything to a contest, perhaps because traditionally I have not excelled in that area. The House on Memory Lane placed first in a horror flash contest in 2011 for $100, and I was the runner-up with Contractions and Reactions in 2012 to the tune of $250, but that’s about it.
So this week I have sent off a few to be judged by others, with some pieces that have not seen the light of day for a long time. I sent off one flash story – Black & White City – that I have not emailed into the wild for eleven years, which may be the longest interval between submissions I’ve ever had.
Fingers crossed that I get back on that wagon soon.
I delved a little deeper this week into the dialogue of Talking in the Fourth. I’m looking forward to grabbing some time and getting through it because I already have a good springboard for the plot and how it ends, and about half of my projected word count committed. It’s (hopefully) a clever twist on a familiar set-up.
I’m also going to make a concerted effort to fire off a bunch of stories in the next few days. I’ve sat on a lot of good pieces for a long time, and I miss those days when I’d have upwards of fifty active submissions… where I genuinely did look forward to the response, even though nine times out of ten it was a rejection.
Well, I’ve named the piece I was discussing last week. It’s going to be called, Scream, Pause, Play. At least, that’s the working title. These things have been known to change as the story grows. On paper (or, in my head, at least) it’s a very dark story with an interesting narrative form. It will be quite the undertaking, but I’m certainly willing to giving it a go.
I’ve also picked up a story I started a long time ago called, Talking in the Fourth. It’s a first person tale set entirely on a therapist’s couch that should probably be no longer than a couple of thousand words, so it shouldn’t outstay its welcome. I found a good ending for it a few days ago, so now it’s just a matter of writing my way towards it.
Of course, this is along with that damn monster story on the train that hasn’t quite pulled into the station yet.
But I’ll get there.
When my marriage broke down and I moved out in 2013 I left my computer, and with that decision, lost a lot of my words.
I didn’t leave any completed stories behind, but there were thousands of words of notes and excerpts from things I was working on, along with interesting snippets that I had written down along the way that I didn’t have a place for at the time of writing. None of it was gold, I’m sure, but I’ve managed to work a lot of those rough notes into decent stories over the years, so it’s a loss that still hurts today.
Since then I have been a lot more careful about anything I write. It’s saved in multiple places – emailed to myself, or written onto a disc.
Recently I came across a couple of paragraphs I had saved onto my phone. It was about memories – the beginning of a thought or perhaps a story idea, although (ironically) I don’t really remember.
I read over it, and after adding quite a bit to it with no real direction at all, an idea began to form. Before long, I had characters, a viewpoint, and – from the most innocuous of beginnings – a pretty good grasp of where I wanted to go with it.
And that’s a good feeling.