The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston

11 July 2013

Never Say Never

The universe loves to play practical jokes on me. At least I know it's listening!

Example 1: All through university, while I was studying the hard sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, I would make comments like "Communications? Who would ever get a degree in communications? That's not a real subject."

What am I doing now? Communications, of course.

[This phenomenon is not limited to me. You know what my husband used to make fun of when he was a landscaper? Basket-weaving. And you know what his favorite course was went he went to art school a few years later? Uh, huh. You guessed it.]

Example 2: On this very blog, I have stated how much I hate short stories. This is not meant to offend those who write short stories. It is merely a reflection of my insatiable addiction to books. I can't get enough.

Give me a massive, epic story set over three, four, eight books, or, better yet, a series of character-driven novels that I imagine can go on forever, as long as the protagonist never figures out how she stupidly gets herself into all these bad situations. I fall in love with characters, settings, secondary characters, the bizarre workings of an alternate universe... and I don't want to leave. I'm far more likely to dive into a book as thick as my thigh (and I don't have skinny thighs, I tell ya) than I am to step timidly into a novella.

I once started reading a collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors, Walter Jon Williams, and as fantastic as the writing was, I couldn't finish one story. Not one! I think it's a mental block, something telling me that this is too short. Just as soon as I fall in love with the characters and the world, they will be whisked away and never seen again. I can't set myself up for such heartbreak.

And then agent Pooja Menon tweets this great post about 'Breaking the Deadly Loop of the Debut Writer' by Rati Mehrotra, and I decide Fine! I'll write some short stories and try to get them published. You know what? I've discovered I love writing short stories. They have all the tight storytelling and pacing of an hour long drama teleplay, with the added benefit of internal monologue and a chance to really show off my prose. Now, I'm tearing through my stockpile of ideas, brain buzzing with even more new ideas, as I write short stories in all my favorite genres from SF to Fantasy and Horror. It's so much better than querying.

Thank you, Universe, for teaching me another lesson.