The Fall and Rise of Draft One

Day One

We’re putting together an anthology,” they say. They have an email to prove it. Very few combinations of five words so excite The Short Story Guy. Maybe “short stories turn me on,” or “sure, we’re a paying market.”

It is not a literary style I’ve written in. Despite that, perhaps because of it, I am intrigued.

I fire up the idea engine.

Nothing happens.

Day Thirty

I have researched this strange literary technique, its shining authors and common subject matter. I have started and abandoned a few concepts. Having tossed out the chaff, now is the time of wheat. Surely, I think, an inspired idea is assured. Any time now.

Nothing Happens.

Day Thirty-Seven

Today is the day. Other projects need aging. No other anthology offers. No requests for Short Story Guy to make commencement speeches or sign other people’s books at Barnes & Noble. Theme! I think. Yes, theme. My submission needs a theme. One that matches the anthology.  I select it.

Nothing happens.

Day Thirty-Eight

The white screen mocks me. Where there should be a Continue reading “The Fall and Rise of Draft One”

Behind: “The Carcassonne Dream”

It is winter. Christmas Eve 2011, and Writer Guy rides the train to Arles. Second class. The South of France trundles by outside, salt flats and olive trees, the mountainside and harbor towns of the Mediterranean coast. I sip my Coca-Cola Lite and return to my laptop.

For in France the writing flows, as fast as the sweeping wind is vicious. I plan a collection, short stories set in different French locales, and the first idea has begun to spill out.

It is about a guy in Provence. On a train. In winter.

Such is my premise. Six words nearly bring the Coca-Cola Lite out my nose: “France Is Continue reading “Behind: “The Carcassonne Dream””

Behind: “La Upsell”

Intrepid Travelers Lowestoft coverHere, in honor of its recent republication, is a “Behind The Short Story” I wrote for “La Upsell.”

The short story is its own literary animal, a wholeness experienced in few words and on small bones. Some writers get a sunbeam and angel choir moment of inspiration. Others grit it out, go find the story. I’m somewhere in between those extremes.

For “La Upsell,” I was deep in a story groove, having worked up momentum on several other shorts. A rare place for me, to be fully inspired. It’s a hell of a feeling.

Inspiration went something like this: Continue reading “Behind: “La Upsell””

Satire: “He Writes in the Present Tense”

Bob’s note: The old woman here is, in my head anyway, a prototype for the old man in “The Carcassonne Dream.” Oh, and the tortured subject-verb relationships…well, that kind of the point.

Today fiction chooses him. Among the crowd circling the bookstore café, he is fastest to claim the open table. He powers up his laptop and smells the coffee brewing, hears the tempest roar of the cappuccino maker. This, he thinks, is writing.

He sets his fingers atop his keyboard, the artist poising for his muse. Nothing comes. He bemoans his feckless muse and switches to Facebook.

Those without tables see he is almost out of coffee. They circle, ready to swoop. For the sake of his writing he forgoes a refill. At the Überbooks café, it is literary trench warfare.

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There is a time in his past when Continue reading “Satire: “He Writes in the Present Tense””