You guys might have heard that I wrote a short story the other day. But I didn’t just write one–I also posted it so that anyone in the world who wanted to read it, could (and still can). And I just have to, being the writer that I am, talk about what that meant to me and write a behind-the-scenes post, as you will. So hang on to your cables (get it, because…because…*bursts into sobbing at her own cruelty*); we’re about to head into the abyss of my own head.
When the prompt was first offered by Joyce for our first batch of stories–a picture of letters with burnt edges–my mind went in about 12 different directions. I ended up writing a 1,300 word story the same week, entitled “Papercut,” set sometime during the regency period, plotted around lost felt and love lost. Though it wasn’t originally inspired by this, I was also going through a confusing patch in my dating life in that time, and I won’t lie and say that elements from my own life didn’t sneak into the story. Regardless, I wrote a draft, read it over once and was content to let it sit before revising and posting it.
Fast forward to the Sunday before it’s my turn to post. The idea of opening up “Papercut” and reading it over left me cringing. And though I didn’t mind the story, I really wanted to write something different; something that encapsulated my writing style more accurately. My fellow Muses all wrote more within their elements and they all hit it out of the park. I call myself a fantasy and science fiction writer. So why couldn’t I write a short piece that was within those genres? Hell, why wasn’t that my gut instinct?
I realized that I, in fact, could write a science fiction or fantasy short story. I also discovered a pattern. I’ve always hated writing short stories. I’m not a short writer. I struggle with brevity. And any time I attempt a short story, it turns into 125,000+ words. When I was in college, I took some creative writing classes, all which focused on writing short stories. And while I never realized it then, I almost always wrote contemporary. It wasn’t until I took a class with Kij Johnson, a BAMF writer and mentor in her own right, that I felt I was given permission to write in my preferred genres, because she did. I felt I wouldn’t be judged for writing in something other than contemporary.
I know, I’m shaking my head, too. I was ignorant, then.
Still am, often enough, actually.
Once I took away that barrier, that foolish belief that my short fiction had to be limited by walls I built myself, my mind raced and suddenly my search history raised eyebrows. What happens if you bleed in space? What are all the ways you can die in space? What happens if your space suit tears? What is hypoxia? Needless to say, I had a blast writing that story, which clocked out to roughly 2,400 words. I loved feeling the story unravel before me after I latched onto the idea of dying in attempt to retrieve letters in space. I missed that feeling.
But then I remembered that I was going to post it for everyone to read.
And I thought of you.
Perhaps not you, specifically, but a pretty gosh darn good chance it was you, if you fall into the category of my regular blog followers and readers (if not, hello. It’s a pleasure to meet you and thanks for stopping by. Leave your own blog link in the comments below. I wanna check it out.). Because you guys have been awesome, interacting in the comment section, reading my posts even when they are ridiculously long, sharing them and, most heartwarmingly, enthusiastically supporting me and the Muses when we announced that we were starting a collaborative short story blog. As you know, writing–and the struggles and successes that go along with that–is what I write about most. So you’re not surprised that I’m a writer and that I write stories. You hear about that process all of the time. And you’ve supported me throughout, with your comments and discussion on this blog and on other social media.
Yet you’ve never actually read any of my work.
And it was that realization that made me want to delete the entire draft of “An Envelope’s Edge” and hide in a hole.
You know exactly what I feared without me spelling it out. It’s that horrible, awkward moment when your friend proclaims (or in my case, has been proclaiming for years) that they want to be a singer or a musician or a painter or a writer. And you’re enthusiastic and supportive and right there with them, as they start lessons or take classes or do research online. And when they finally have the courage to sing a song for you, show you their first painting or let you read a short story, you’re put in that horrible, awkward moment when you have to shatter their dreams by telling them they are missing a key component: an ounce of talent related to their craft.
Rereading my story before I hit “publish”, I was convinced that would be reaction from those whose opinions I’d come to cherish so fondly, the closest I’ve come to having “readers”: my blogging community. Don’t get me wrong. If that had been the case, I wouldn’t have been upset at any of you. I wanted an honest reaction, positive or negative (but hopefully tastefully and kindly delivered, regardless).
I’m sure you can imagine my relief and my joy when the reaction was actually what I dared to hope for. Enjoyment. Shock at the ending. But, best of all? A desire for more.
Thank you, dear reader, for following me on this journey of chasing dreams and humoring me as I record my emotions and reactions and musings on this blog throughout it all. Thank you for the conversations. Thank you for the support. And thank you for telling me you enjoyed my writing when you could have simply read it and moved on, without me ever knowing. I hope, with future stories–for all the Muses, mind, not just myself–that you will continue to spare a few moments of your time, speak your mind and share your thoughts, positive and negative. Because every thought helps me grow and pushes me forward. And I plan to reminisce about these moments on a book tour, one day.