“So how’s that writing thing going?”
People generally assume I’m writing something, but if they ask anything specific I shut down, say something trite and sarcastic, and change the subject. Questions about my work like “What’s it called?” or “What’s it about?” tend to only illicit grumpy-bear noises from me. I appreciate that friends and family are interested, but nothing kills a work-in-progress faster than talking about it. If a story comes spilling out of my mouth, it won’t come spilling out of my fingertips and into a keyboard like it’s supposed to. This is a common affliction among writers. If you say it, you won’t write it. Many a terrific story has died a premature death by being spoken out of existence.
Once it’s done, then I can safely blab about it. To that end, there are a couple of new and a couple of old short stories I should mention.
As of today, Table d’hôte is live on Shotgun Honey. This is home to a wide variety of noir flash fiction from authors around the world. Given that their unofficial mascot is Frigga from Thriller: A Cruel Picture (AKA They Call Her One Eye), that legend of Swedish exploitation cinema, I knew I had to submit some material to them. At under 700 words, you should be able to absorb it about as fast as this blog post.
Newly added to the short story section of the Eyestrain homepage is Probe, the very first short story I ever had published, a mere quarter century ago now. It wasn’t my first published work – that happened a year earlier with my scripts for the comic book anthology, Shattered Earth, but we’re still going waaaaaay back into the dusty recesses of the filing cabinet. It’s vaguely cute, kinda funny, so I figured I might as well own up to it and give it a new home.
Underwriter is something much more recent I finished and decided to host here, rather than flog it around to other venues. Mostly because it’s completely self-indulgent. In an effort to exorcise some of the demons from my screenwriting career, I thought I might like to have a go at a few of the meetings I’ve sat through over the years. Yes it’s fiction, but it’s also very much inspired by some sadly all-too-real encounters behind the scenes of the film and television industry. Have fun deciding for yourself how much of it is grotesque exaggeration for comedic effect, and how much of it is grotesque reality for soul-crushing effect.
A little farther down the road, Big Pulp will be reprinting my story, Carrion Luggage (originally from the Island Dreams collection of 2003), in their upcoming zombie anthology. I thought I’d offer it to them because hey, who the hell writes voodoo zombie stories anymore? Apparently nobody. It’s all The Walking/Talking Dead now – George Romero, two generations removed. I figured they’d jump at it as a welcome change of pace to all the flesh eating that goes on with recently reanimated corpses these days. And I was correct. More details (like the actually name of the upcoming collection) will appear in this space when I find out for myself.
I have another half-a-dozen new short stories waiting in the wings as well. I’m still on the fence about exactly what I want to do with them. I feel I should at least go through the motions and give a few of them a fair kick at the can with paying magazines, but my patience with the whole submission process isn’t what it used to be. In the midst of my mid-life crisis (something that’s been going on since I turned 30 – or, if I’m being perfectly honest, 20) I’m less interesting in pursuing the often paltry sums offered for fiction in lieu of just taking the raw material directly to my audience. Editors and gatekeepers too often operate as a barrier between what I write and what ultimately gets read. I feel my material gets filtered quite enough (“butchered” is the more accurate word) in the work I do for the screen. Prose is what I write to relax, so I can say exactly what I mean, warts and all.
I kinda like a good wart every now and then. It adds character.