Friday, March 30, 2007

Short Stories

My short story is up now: http://crimsonhighway.com/

The funny thing about this story is it's really the first official short story I wrote. Ever since I was nine--creating book covers with crayons and discovering the folded, stapled page-- it's always been novels or poetry. I've never been good at the short story, and honestly I don't take Crimson Highway's act of publishing kindness to mean that has changed. It's all subjective. But lately, I've found myself moving more and more into this realm with my writing...between work on the novel, that is.

There are two things I've found necessary to short story writing. Those are patience and attention. Maybe it's the same process for novel writing, but its so much more drawn out that I haven't really noticed. It's a very strange process and I know now why I've heard some writers answer the question "where do you get your ideas?" with "from a mail order catalog." Really, they don't know. Muse, inspiration, or magic. To me, it feels like magic but since I'm always inclined to peek under the curtain...here's what I've figured out.

The process starts with an irritation. A small itch. The pearl made from a grain of sand. For example, the story I'm working on now came from my reaction to what's going on in Africa. I didn't plan on writing a story based on this. And when my main character appeared, I didn't know that her environment, while set in a different time and space, would mirror that of Africa's, but it does. I will chalk this up to my subconscious trying to create a similar situation that I can inject hope into. Self-therapy. Working it out.

Anyway, she came to me complete. Not the story, but the person. I watched her for a few days. This Jadis Honeywine person. I got to know her family's trade, heard the fables passed on to her from her mother about her people. The light skinned people came from Green Ash trees in the spring, when the leaves were green and so they have green eyes. The other tribes came from Maple, Willow, Birch, and Palms and Olive trees. Silly little pieces like this.

This is where the attention comes in. Throughout the day, I have to pay attention because these bits of story drift in and must be captured or lost. I don't know her story but I'm patiently waiting for it to unfold. Sometimes I try to interject my own interpretation, push the story in a certain direction. It falls apart. This is where the patience comes in. So, I wait and watch.

I didn't have the patience for this process when I was younger. I wonder how many stories were whispered to me that I didn't hear.

Even peeking behind the curtain, it feels like magic.

3 comments:

Christian said...

We always knew you were PAYING ATTENTION. I just printed out your story and am going to read it on the bus ride home this afternoon. I can't wait!

Christian said...

Great! I really liked the twist toward the end with the storm arriving and its name. Thank you!

Shannon said...

Glad I could give you something to do on the way home besides stare at the person's head in front of you...he he. Thanks for reading!