Wednesday 10 August 2016

Short stories

I'm constantly trying to produce longer work. I currently have at least three proper full-length novels under construction, and I envisage that at least two of those will be the first parts of a series.

And yet, whenever inspiration strikes on a walk to work, or while flicking through a magazine at the day job (my day job involves sourcing advertisements from other publications, it's a legit activity, honest), I keep getting ideas for things that are obviously only going to be short stories.

And the really annoying part is that sometimes they demand to be written, these stories. A single image in my head crowds out whole novels until I submit and write the damn thing down, explore the idea, and lay it to rest on paper.

The most irritating example of this was what I can only describe as Tale of Two Cities 2. I took a few (very) small parts in an amateur production of this show - normally I'd share a photo at this point, but the chap taking the cast photos was always on stage at the same time as me, very upsetting - and while drinking at the cast party we were talking about what a shame it was that Madame Defarge dies, as she's clearly the best character in it.

I suddenly pictured Defarge opening her eyes, and escaping the scene of her death by an elaborate and very silly method involving her iconic knitting. And this absurd little scene just would not go away. If anything it became more insistent.

In the end, unable to work on anything else, I wrote it up in graphic novel script format. Because to be honest that was less work than a full prose treatment. I worked out it was about three pages of lunacy, including a splash page of Defarge's triumphant escape, because an artist friend had been moaning to me that no one does splash pages any more.

As soon as I'd written it, complete with a coda where a shadowy figure "recruits" the escaped Defarge for some mysterious and no doubt nefarious purpose, I forgot about it. It was too League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for my tastes. I doubt I even still have the script, I have a feeling it was lost in a hard drive meltdown a couple of years later. But the block was very, very real right up until the point where I wrote it all down.

So this is a very rambling way of saying that in spite of the fact that I have far, far bigger fish to fry, I just had an idea for a quaint short story involving a mobile library travelling once a week to a scientific outpost in the far future.

Which will win? Who can say.

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