I sent out a couple short stories today, which was gut-wrenching for a couple of reasons. “Walking In Another Man’s . . .” is thinly-veiled as fiction. It is about my father and the experience of visiting someone with Alzheimer’s. I guess that it is also about shoes, because . . . wait for it . . . the title is both literal and figurative. *gasp* Well, write what you know.
Glitter was forbidden in our household back when our daughter was trached. Small particles like that could invade her stoma and damage her airway. So, of course, my wife’s family sends cards festooned with the stuff. My other story, “Get Well Soon,” is based on that, the sheer isolation of holding a greeting card that looks like it says one thing but is really conveying, “We have no idea what you are going through. We never will. It’s quite possible that we don’t even care at all.” Come to think of it, I should put that card into production.
Obviously, they were tough stories to tackle because . . . all of these emotions . . . BLECH! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Lenny and the Squigtones, it’s that real men don’t cry, they vomit. No, the hard part — the reeeaaallly hard part — was submitting them to the big guys, the magazines that can launch a writer’s career. It’s a hard combo, because finalizing these scoured me out, and I’m not eager to have that space filled with rejection letters. This is some of my best though.
I’ve noticed that my fiction has become very short, pared down to its essential elements. A lot of what I’m writing is coming out at less than two-thousand words, which is a big departure from ten-years-ago, where everything leaned toward novelette length. I think that started with “Get Well Soon.” I was reading it to my mother, and it had a much longer premise that devolved into gruesome horror. I hadn’t finished it though, and when I hit the point where the story presently ends, we both agreed that nothing more was needed. That was the whole of the story, and anything else would detract from it. It’s a lesson that I pass on whenever I teach about writing. Brevity. Wish I could nail that in a blog post.