Attacking Story

Woke up to a heavy marine layer and a reasonable temperature, which is a blessing in August. It won’t last–they’re saying 100F on Sunday–but I’m going to enjoy while it’s here. If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that. Along with, “Use the good china, because life is short and we like pretty things.”

The wind rose as evening fell yesterday, a push from the west bringing in this lovely cooler weather. It smelled fantastic, and I had dinner alone–both children were sacked out early, they’ve been busy lately–with a book, Daisuke Igarashi’s Witches. Slowly consuming garlicky pasta while turning pages is a joy I’ve not had much of for a while, and I used it to the hilt. I was also attacked by a short story, which I should have fended off with my fork but I was too hungry.

So right after dinner I hurried to the desktop, opened a new Scrivener file, and dumped in a few hundred words of skeleton for said short story. Shorts aren’t my favorites; I find them much more difficult to write than novels but sometimes it’s the only structure possible for a certain tale. A novel is a protracted, endurance-based duel; a short story (for me, at least) is an iaido strike. The former engages with changing conditions over a long period of time, the latter must be whole, complete, and stainless before it’s initiated.

Of course, you can make the case that a novel is also whole before it’s even attempted, and for some writers I’m sure it is. Not for me, though. I’d rather endure the battering of a novel than agonize over a short story, and I know some writers feel the exact opposite. Normally I only write shorts to spec, when I’m tapped for an anthology.

But sometimes, a “keyhole” story–a single glimpse, seen through a chink in wall or door–attacks. They feel different. Novels come from a seed, sprout, and struggle for the sky. Novellas (again, for me) are short, dreamlike interludes, usually created in a few days of furious work. A short story is a lightning flash which paradoxically may require several attempts (draws) to get the branching and evanescent strike correct.

So I’ve added the short story to the round-robin of projects on the docket right now. I don’t think it’ll find a home, but maybe this is an invitation from the universe to finally collect all the shorts I’ve written and put them in a single book. The only thing stopping me is the required time and energy, which could be said of anything. But…maybe soon, since apparently I’m going to be attacked by the bastards over pasta now.

Still, it’s going to have to wait its turn, which will probably be after I finish both the Rook’s Rose and Sons of Ymre 2 zeroes. I have the bones of the short story down, so it’ll keep in stasis until I can give it the attention deserved. I complain, sure, but it’s really nice to have stories bubbling up through the subconscious layers of their own accord again. The stress of recent years (since 2016, really) has had a rather deleterious effect on my productivity, though you wouldn’t know it to look at my bibliography, and I am glad to feel even fractionally more like myself.

Boxnoggin would very much like for me to get moving, and I suppose I should grab some toast. Luxuriating in the weather doesn’t change the amount of work waiting for me today, and there’s a run to get in as well. I’ve been feeling like it’s Monday all week; maybe today will feel like the Thursday it is.

Worth a shot, at least. See you around.