Sunday, March 1, 2009

The long and... well, the short of it, anyway

Before applying to Clarion last year, I hadn't written a lot of short fiction. In fact, I pretty much started writing short fiction in order to be able to apply to Clarion last year. That worked out fairly well, actually. 

While at Clarion, I wrote a lot of short fiction. One short story for each of the six weeks (wrote six, workshopped five.) A piece of flash fiction for Jim Kelly's week. (This may still be my favorite thing that I have written. Zombies and bad '80s dance music.) Four even shorter pieces of flash inspired by Dave McKean postcards the week Neil Gaiman taught. Like I said, a lot of short fiction. 

This isn't unusual, incidentally. This is just what one does while at Clarion. What one does not do, in case you were wondering, is sleep.

But then I came back home, and the project I was most interested in working on was a novel. And I had a dissertation to finish. There weren't any short story ideas floating around in my brain, and that was fine. I had plenty of other things to keep me busy.

About a week ago, I flew out to San Francisco to visit friends from Clarion: the lovely Megan, Lauren, Emily, and Dana. On the flight out, I read a quote that I had seen countless times before. But this time, something in the back of my mind said, "there's a story there." I filed the idea away. I would work on it Later.

Maybe it was being in a group of Clarionites again. Maybe it was the fact that the novel became exceedingly recalcitrant, and I was advised to set it aside for a bit, think about something else. Whatever it was, I finished "A Life in Fictions" last night.

I'm pleased with it. It wasn't what I expected it to be when I began, but it is the right story. 

Now I just need to figure out where to try to sell it.


  1. And it is good. Well, I think so anyway.

    I am, as always, impressed by your industry and ability to Accomplish Things, despite my best efforts to distract you with talk of pop up circus sideshows and perfume research and possible graphic novels.

  2. Oh, but sometimes distractions turn into stories. Like the epistolary perfume novel. And I just know that someday I am going to get a Megan story about a pop up circus sideshow.