Saturday, March 1, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Took Wednesday off, mostly out of exhaustion.

Thursday night: After reading a few short stories by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend; Hell House; 7 Steps to Midnight; The Shrinking Man; A Stir of Echoes; What Dreams May Come; and the famous Twilight Zone episode when William Shatner sees a sky-creature tearing apart the wing of a plane--"Terror at 20,000 Feet"), I realized that writers like him (and many short story writers) write down whatever thoughts occur to them that have any resonance and sticking power at all, and then see what happens.  This might sound like, "Well, duh," but when I say any thoughts at all, I mean any thoughts at all.  And so I did that--and out poured about 1,500 words, handwritten.  An almost-completed short story, all at once!  And it's among my best yet.

Title, "The Pipes."  Look for a blog about what magazine or online magazine bought it.  I'm serious.  It's that good--and I don't fall in love with my own writing that often.  I'm submitting this weekend.

By the way, Matheson's short stories that brought that home: "Crickets."  Now, listen to this.  According to his short notes after the story, Matheson's just sitting around outside one summer night, listening to the crickets.  And, as writers of his genre will, he thought: "What if the crickets are communicating something.  What if they're communicating the names of people who will die soon?"  [Sort of like the Pre-cogs in Minority Report, in a way.]  "What if some guy finally figures that out?  And so the crickets have to get him."

So, these are crickets, right?  Crickets knowing what people will die soon?  And communicating that?  To...whom?  To what?  And, why?  And, this is what hit me hardest when I was done: "John Morgan?  Harold Galloway?  Jean Galloway?" [These are the last three names mentioned in the story.]  "The crickets must only be communicating the names of very local people.  And even then, how many John Morgans can there be in a decently populated area?  Maybe...25?  50?  How does anyone (or anything) know which John Morgan it is?"  But the point is that you don't think those things until after the story's done.  And it was an oddly effective and creepy story.

The essence, perhaps, of fiction: You start with a silly thought, work it to an odd premise--and that you write something good, or at least effective, with it.

That's what I think I did.  I wrote about basement pipes.  I really did.  Well, kind of.

Anyway: 1,500 words, handwritten.

No comments:

Post a Comment