samuel x. brase likes to write

Short Journeys

Posted in short stories by Sam X. on 14 May 2009

Let’s take a break from all this novel talk. The novel is great but I’m not JK Rowling and I won’t sell novel #1 immediately. If I get anywhere, it’s going to be from cutting my teeth on the short story circuit.

So I have six short stories that I’m pretty confident in; one of them still needs editing before I’ll feel comfortable sending it out. I have two other stories that require a shit ton of editing / almost aren’t even worth the time that would be spent. I have one story that’s very short and pretty boring and generally not right for any publication.

Thus, five stories are out at any given point, getting rejected regularly. I picked a poor time to start sending stories out; a lot of journals close shop for the summer and have no need for new stories. But whatever, I’m getting used to the process and maybe one will go through.

The current story I’m writing is designed for a journal with the theme of “journeys.” My original idea was about an anti-social man on a very slow elevator ride being cajoled into sociability by a friendly woman. Even the description sounds boring. I wrote about half of the story and couldn’t bear it anymore. The structure is good (a short new section for every floor), and the title is nice, but that idea is just a snoozefest. The characters are good though. I’m thinking about injecting some magical realism into it; perhaps every floor they stop at is weirder than the last, until the elevator ejects them into a tree or something. Still not grabbing me. Maybe I should just table this story for now.

Another theme I want to write about for a journal is “shortcuts.” I’ve had a couple simple ideas for this theme. One is of a boy who discovers a new keyboard shortcut that opens some kind of portal up in his computer. Another is about a house that has a simple passage to another part of the world. Like, a house suburban Colorado has a passage to China or something. They’re both kind of basic ideas. The second one is better. This story would be more of a sketch, as the max words is 2000.

All right, did some cleaning, revised the idea for the elevator story. The first two floors are basically the same, but as they ascend, things become more and more off — plants growing on floors, power flickering, so on. Our main character refuses to reveal what he is seeing to the other two people until they reach the roof and he is forced to confront reality (that their city was destroyed long ago and he has been delusional since).

Not an amazing proposition but it’ll get the story done. I’ll have to keep the fantasy down and the surreality up. Shouldn’t be too tough. The shortcut story can be a little more fantastical as the journal tends towards experimental material. So I can play up the fantasy instead of the surreal when it comes to having a passage to another part of the world in your basement.

There we go, this has been useful. Onwards and upwards.

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