I’ve been very quiet on the blog this month, but it hasn’t been for procrastination, nor lack of writing. Quite the opposite – I’ve been participating in NaNoWiMo (National Novel Writing Month) and it’s been going wonderfully well.
Not that I’m writing a novel. I decided I’d use November and December to focus on short fiction and for pitching another novel, as my edits for Triad Blood will be coming back in January. So, the pitch? Sent off. And the short fiction?
Well, that depends on how you define “short.”
Something has been happening to me lately with my inspiration. I’m actually okay with this thing that’s happening (for the most part) but the stories that are coming out of me are… long-ish? Short stories are generally described as being somewhere below the 7.5k or 5k mark, depending on the genre and collection. This month for NaNoWriMo, I’ve completed two pieces so far (one at 9k, and one at about 15k). Two more are underway, and the next one is going to come in over 15k when I finish it today and/or tomorrow, and I don’t have any real hope of seeing the fourth one come in under 10k either. The biggest thing to come out of this month is probably going to be my realization that I do have a very functional and workable idea for a series of interconnected short fiction (or, rather, novellas, I guess) that all focus around a fictionalized (and slightly magical) version of the local gay Village. The first 15k story is set in that village, with a young man who works at the occult shop part time, his wonderful boss (and maybe witch) and the guy who is hired to paint a memorial across the street. A little bit of luck, a lot of awkward nerdiness, and perhaps a little meddling from the witch will propel those two into making some magic of their own – and start the “Village” series off. That story is drafted (though not polished by any means, this is, after all, NaNoWriMo), and the next one is bubbling in my head, revolving around the tea shop. I’ve got back-burner ideas for the art gallery, the book store, and the coffee shop, and an actual short story was accepted for an anthology earlier that involves the local chocolate shop, though at the time, the Village idea hadn’t fully evolved, so I think of that as a story “zero-point-five” rather than the first.
I’m also writing a Christmas themed novella. This one has been a small slice of joy to write, as it’s drawn very much from many various Christmases in my own life, and having rediscovered a love of the holiday somewhat as of last year, it’s fun to watch a character get there, too.
So. That’s where I’ve been.
Inspiration is a funny thing. For one, it’s a sneaky bugger. It’s really, really good at coming at me while I’m very busy doing something else (hence the illustration up there, which is pretty on-point for when I realized what I wanted to do with a particular story, only to realize my hands were full with a very energetic dog, a bag of his poop, and no way to write any of what had just occurred to me down so I wouldn’t forget it). I may have walked the dog home chanting the idea over and over.
What? Don’t tell me you’ve never done that.
Ideas come from all sorts of places for me, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to catalog the processes and sparks and visits from the muse, so – in case you’re interested – here are the seeds to some of the things I’ve done thus far:
- “Heart,” in Fool for Love – This one was born from one of the worst moments in my life, which was when my father was dying of heart cancer, and I was watching my mother come to grips with everything that this meant, and knowing there wasn’t much hope for a proper goodbye. “Heart” come from that notion of wanting to be able to say goodbye. (Link – http://www.cleispress.com/book_page.php?book_id=302 )
- “Cakewalk,” in I Do Two! – This was a charity anthology where the proceeds were aimed at marriage equality work, and I really wanted to write a story for it, but was drawing a blank. At the time, my husband was learning how to decorate cakes, and my co-worker, Anna, said, “All good stories should start with ‘There once was a Princess named Anna.'” She wasn’t kidding. But as she said it, something the phrase and the cookbook I was looking at clicked, and the whole story sort of fell into place in my head. (Link: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=IDO21002 )
- “Three,” in Blood Sacraments – This one came from musing about Dracula’s three brides. It always struck me as such a random thing, especially the number and when the call came for a gay erotic take on vampires, I decided that “three” was going to be some sort of rule or requirement, and the whole world of the Triad started to fall into place. This story ended up spawning three more short stories, and my upcoming novel, Triad Blood. So, y’know, thanks, Bram! (Link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602824898e.html )
- “Hometown Boy,” in Saints and Sinners 2011: New Fiction from the Festival came from a piece of my personality that I should perhaps work on: I have a love of revenge. I’m not proud of it, and I’ve matured a lot, but with this story, I played a “what if?” game and allowed that darker piece of me full reign. The end story left me a little bit uncomfortable with myself, but perhaps that’s a sign of progress of some kind. (Link: http://www.amazon.com/Saints-Sinners-2011-Fiction-Festival/dp/160864054X )
- “Elsewhen,” from Riding the Rails was one of the most unique experiences of my writing life so far. I’d seen the call for submissions, and I was looking online through photos of Ottawa’s Grand Trunk train station, and my iPod shuffled to the DeVotchka song ‘How it Ends’ and I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I put the song on repeat, and in the space of an hour or two, song playing the whole time, I wrote the story, start to finish. It was intense and incredible and I really hope something like that happens again, someday. And “fun fact” – this is my husband’s favourite short story of mine. (Link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602826229e.html )
- “Filth,” from Night Shadows was a very rare thing for me. It was horror, and I don’t read much of it (because it gives me nightmares). I had originally been writing a very different story, but it wasn’t working. Then I had one of my longest running and recurring nightmares, and when I woke up, it occurred to me to fictionalize that nightmare. “Filth” came out of that, and – in an interesting twist – I’ve not had that nightmare again since. (Link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602827516.html )
Anyway. That’s just a few of my sparks. Where have some of your stories come from? I’m always interested in the processes of others, and I love the metastory about fictions.