I was off sick from work yesterday. Despite the fact that I was physically unwell, my mind would not stop niggling at me to use my 'free' time to get some writing done.
Finally capitulating, I contemplated what sort of writing exercise to partake in. The pile of critique I had gotten from my writing group still nestled comfortably between the pages of my copy of 'Beginnings, Middles and Ends' by Nancy Kress and I had not recovered enough or put enough emotional distance between the critiques and my ability to implement the needed changes. So I did not reach to open them. Instead, I thought about what they had said and tried to figure out something I could do that would feel like I'm doing something active to move my story forward.
I hit a bit of a block doing that because I was still in the 'novel mode' and it seemed too vast to try to change just one thing as know even a small change will have a significant impact on the whole of the story. That kept me frozen for a while until I decided to think laterally: Why don't I do something else separate from the WIP? But again, this thought led me back to the novel arena and I felt too weak to start up another 'potential' novel.
And then I had an Eureka moment: Why not write a short story?
Now, to everyone reading this, this might be a no-brainer, 'Duh, that's a much easier undertaking, isn't it?' However, for me, it is not. Here is my confession: I do not read short stories.
Yes, it's true. It's not that I have not read some short stories in the past, of course I have. The problem for me was that these stories I read made me realise just how much I love longer prose. I tend to have too many questions when I come to the end of a short; questions I need the authour themselves to answer for me. I do not like to think about what could have happened because, it is not my story. If it is not mine, then I do not want to have to speculate on the backstory or afterstory. S when I have questions hanging around in my mind when I come to the end of somebody's piece of work, for me, that is highly unsatisfactory. Couple that with the fact that most of the ones I read had been literary
pieces that I think, pride themselves on leaving you as confused as
possible, you can understand my overall hesitation with the whole thing.
Nevertheless, since I have started to make writing a bigger and more significant part of my life, I am forcing myself to open up to things that I have previously been more rigid about. In order to make this easier on myself, I decided to read short stories in the genres (fantasy (epic and not), YA, romance) that I am interested in writing in, to get an idea of how it is done.
To my delight, what I found out was that unlike my reaction to reading literary short stories, I was inspired by the questions left unanswered in fantasy short pieces. I was driven to try and come up with the different ways the stories could go after they dropped off the end of the page. And I loved it!
Inspired by the few stories that I read yesterday, I decided to write one and several hours later, I had my very first completed short story. I couldn't be more proud of it. I know it is amateur and could possibly be found wanting is numerous different ways, but the fact remains that I completed a piece of work. Something I have never done before in a non-exam situation. My heart is smiling and my brain is fizzing away with more ideas. As a direct result of the buzz of this success, I went back to my WIP. What I decided to do was add in a prologue to provide a bit of back story that would minimise the need for info dumping in the main story. I wrote and completed that prologue and it came up to just under a thousand words in total.
All in all, during my sick day yesterday, I wrote over two thousand five hundred words. Never before, have I had such a productive day and I got the feeling, however briefly, of what it would be like to be a professional writer.
I am thrilled.
I have not put the story up here because I don't think anyone is interested at the moment nd that was not the really point of this post. I might put it up in the future if I want to or if I get requests to do so.