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.
The three challenge stories I am doing for the household – that I talked about several weeks ago – are well underway, and should probably all come in as flash fiction.
The Fiancée© decided upon a thriller with the word cave as inspiration. Her tale is called Tites Go Down (although I’m really not impressed with that title, and it will probably change). It currently sits at just over 600 words. I quite like it, but I’m not sure the kids are going to enjoy what happens in the story to them!
Daughter went with the word lake and wanted a mystery… so that’s what she is getting. Her tale is about 600 words and is called Last Chance Lagoon. I’m enjoying this one too and at this early stage it feels like it may end up being the best of the three.
Son went for a drama with the word equality. I initially struggled getting some traction with this one because it is such a broad genre and – dare I say it – a bland word to use. But that was what I was given, so I won’t shirk the challenge. Monochromatic is currently around 500 words.
I have decided to give myself a Christmas Day deadline for these three stories. I can print them out and save myself a few quid on gifts.
With this little writing challenge I set myself a couple of weeks ago I reckon I have stumbled upon a trifecta of (potentially) good stories. It may take some time to get them done, especially at this busy time of year, but perhaps I will stick them under the tree and offer them up as Christmas gifts.
Admittedly, the stories took a while to get to where I wanted them to go, but I now have a clear direction for each of them and it’s just a case of joining the dots and finding the picture that they make.
My biggest hurdle will be once I present the final products, because I can see the narratives putting a few noses out of joint in my closed audience.
It’s fiction, people. Try to remember that.
The printing of all my stories is taking a long time, not least of all because the connection between my laptop and the printer seems to be extremely temperamental, and it forces my computer to blue screen and shut down every once in a while. But I’m doing that a little at a time while I get on with other stuff.
I unintentionally started another Jack & Patrick story this week. I was doodling and coming up with ideas, and before long I was putting something down that will probably end up being the next tale in that series.
I also set myself a little writing challenge. I asked The Fiancée© and her two children to each give me a genre and a word to act as inspiration, and I would pen a story in which they were the central character, and the other two would also appear as supporting players… and with varying degrees of success, they all gave me something to work with.
It’s tough, but the gauntlet has been thrown down (by my own hand, no less) so that’s where my efforts currently lie.
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.
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.
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.
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.