I used to print out my stories as I finished them but somewhere along the line I stopped, and as a result the only hard copies I have of my work exists in the magazines and books that I have via their publication.
At least, that was until this week…
I decided that I wanted to have everything there in front of me, filed away on paper. Yeah, it’s a little old fashioned, but there is something satisfying about stories on the page, as opposed to double-clicking a word document. It also means I don’t have to boot up my laptop to look at something I’ve written.
So, I bought a couple of ink cartridges, a heap of plastic pockets, a few lever-arch ring binders, and a shit-ton of paper, and started the process.
And it’s a long process.
I am working back in time and have gone through two cartridges of ink already, which has only got me the last seven years of work… so I’m going to need another trip to the supermarket soon.
But it’s nice to have a physical record of what I’ve been doing. On that note, I discovered that I was missing a first draft of a story I wrote in 2013. Can’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, I have the redraft stored (and now printed), so all was not lost.
Word count – 4,900
As I am discovering with a lot of the stories in Night Shift, The Boogeyman is very straightforward, which I am sure has a lot to do with how young and inexperienced King was when he wrote these. No matter, such literary limitations often makes for a more focused tale, and the narrative here is pretty solid as a result.
The Boogeyman is set entirely in a therapy session with the central character taking the blame for the death of his three children, because he believes that he has allowed the titular boogeyman into their home. What follows is the conversation between doctor and patient as they both try to work through what has actualy happened.
This is a simple story that is possibly a little longer than it needs to be – because there isn’t much meat on the bone – but it’s a fun read, and worth your time if you want to dig in to the collection.
Last night I finished writing the short story I first mentioned three weeks ago. From first word to last it’s a fairly quick turnaround for me. After my initial struggles I found a title that fits what I was trying to accomplish. It’s called More of a Wednesday Girl.
The tale comes in at just over 2000 words, which – give or take a word or two – is exactly the length I had anticipated, and that’s another thing that is unusual for me, because I’m very good at grossly underestimating just how damn long my stories are going to be.
It’s good, and I’m happy with it, but I let The Fiancée© read it about five minutes after I put it down, and she made a suggestion about the way the story unfolded that I am annoyed never really crossed my mind. Sometimes it really is a case of not seeing the wood for the trees.
Oh well… maybe in the next draft.
Word count – 7,000
An industrial laundry press is possessed and kills anyone who gets too close to it. Yes, the premise of The Mangler is very silly, which is not to say that silly ideas can’t work, but it does mean the story is already fighting an uphill battle even before we turn the first page.
This would not have been so bad had it been well written, but unfortunately I can see the immaturity and inexperience of the author in the words. Actually, King does name-drop the titular model of laundry press as a Hadley-Watson Model-6 Speed Ironer and Folder, so there is something approaching research in here, and an attempt to ground the story in the real world – as much as such a ridiculous idea can be – but the dialogue is painful in places and some of the narration is equally awkward.
Such is the absurdity of the story, The Mangler would have been much more acceptable as a spoof. If I thought that King was trying to make us laugh, this would at least have some merit, but I don’t think he is in on the joke.
Not Recommended ⇓
Unsurprisingly, I did not do any actual writing while I was soaking up the sunshine and scenery in Croatia. I say actual writing because there were quiet people-watching moments when I tried to absorb a lot of what was going on around me. That kind of thing always comes in handy when I least expect it.
I’m back on track now though, and that story I was working on before my holiday is my current priority. I expect to finish it in short order – probably around the 2000 word mark – before getting back to my growing list of stuff in progress.
It is still without a title, which is a little concerning because usually by this stage in the process I have that part nailed on. I don’t think I have ever reached the end of a piece and still not known what to call it. I have a couple of ideas but they are either too on the nose or trying to be too clever, but as long as something comes to me by the final run-through, it’ll be fine.
Word count – 4,900
I Am the Doorway is the first science fiction tale in Night Shift, which is usually not a genre that does much for me, and for the first third of this story I wasn’t really into this one. But once I found out the central character has a collection of alien eyes staring at him from his fingers… I started to pay more attention. I mean, it’s a grabber, right?
Although I Am the Doorway is set in an undisclosed year in the future and it uses deep-space exploration as a background, it is all very high level stuff and never feels too distracting to the movement of the story. There are only two characters in play here and their interactions could just as easily be taking place across a dining room table.
The climax of the story is a winner too, so despite a slow beginning I am happy to recommend this as (so far) the most interesting and dynamic piece in Night Shift.
I work alongside a sixteen year old girl who is having a difficult time in her personal life. She left school this year, and this is her first job. She is currently caught up in a situation that no teenager shoud have to experience – hell, no adult should either.
I say this because it is her story (for want of a better phrase) that has passively inspired the last couple of days of writing. I didn’t even know I wanted to write something about it… but 1300 words on a document on my phone later, and I realised I had something to say. It started out as stuff that I wasn’t sure I had a place for, but over the course of that feverish flurry I managed to come up with a structure and glue the tale together, so less than forty-eight hours after I started writing, what I have so far is a fairly cohesive narrative that won’t take long to close off.
So, while I do sympathise with this girl in the real world, her distress has allowed my imagination to wander and perhaps gifted me a pretty good (dark) short story in the process.