After a fortnight full of travel, more than I ordinarily like to ever do, I'm back in the topmost room of my house where I dwell, where I work, and write in ancient grimoires. A room that is now known as the Belfry.
Last week I said my farewells to my dear grandfather before immediately traversing the country to get to a cybersecurity conference. I was honoured to read out my previous piece at the wake, which was a very joyous occasion in that it was a fitting send off to the reverend, full of positive memories and stories. We did our best to smoke a cigar in his honour, though we all remembered why we don't ever smoke cigars ordinarily.
The writing was interrupted but it's back again this week, as I have just finished the first draft of a second short story this month. Not only was it difficult to return to writing after a period of time off, it's been a new challenge to write such a long short story. Both of these have been at least 6,000 words, due to the requirements of the anthologies I'm planning on submitting them to. Previously, my short stories have only ever been half of that, and I initially got started in the world of writing with flash fiction where 500 words was the limit. This has been new territory for me.
While it has been an adjustment, sometimes painful as I need to extend certain things to reach that limit, I know in the back of my head that it's definitely a good thing to do, to push myself out there and find new formats to trial.
As a story gets shorter, it becomes more focussed and you're forced into an economy of words, particularly with flash fiction. They take on the structure of a joke in that you have a setup that introduces a concept or a world, followed by an immediate punchline or payoff. With flash fiction, you almost have to combine the two otherwise you run out of words. My brain was still acclimatised to strict adherence to that structure, but with a longer short story, there's a freedom in telling the story. And it's one that I'm not used to.
Longer than a chapter of a novel, but telling a complete story, it's felt weird rather than freeing. I like to think I've done a decent job on them (and much rewriting and polishing off of them looms large on the horizon), but it's been difficult to get through to the end, more difficult than I thought would be the case.
During the rewriting phase, I think I'll be able to relish the extra freedom that a higher word count affords, having that first draft as a platform to see what works, what needs tightening up, and what needs fleshing out. With my previous short stories, the rewriting has mostly only been the tightening aspect to get it down in words, with very little in the way of new material injection.
Refining time may have to be put on hold though, as NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and am I suitably prepared for it? Kinda.