Monday, 23 July 2007

One person didn't pass on the chain and ghastly things happened to them, though it's unclear how this information entered the text of the chain letter

"Where've you been, Ian?" I hear you cry out in unison in voices so soft you can't actually discern them yourselves.
"Oh, about," I say, mysteriously failing to sound mysterious.
"And what, pray, have you done?" you respond eagerly, while carefully maintaining the punctuation that helps readers parse your collective utterance. "You've not posted in so long, your mother was considering 'phoning you," you add, unnecessarily archly, I think, but I'm pleased nevertheless that you're like me and you put an apostrophe at the start of 'phone.

Well, I tidied a bit, then messed a bit just so the tidying didn't feel too smug about itself, sent off one contract for a book when I should have sent off two, grizzled pointlessly over the bits of m'radio show I don't like any more and which are all my fault, considered an invitation to go on local radio again (still am doing), and didn't reply to a perfectly polite virtual "tagging" because they're just a reincarnation of those faintly sinister chain letters you sometimes got from friends in the 1980s really and all they ever do, if you fill them in, is tell you that you have fewer friends than your contemporaries and that you're eager to waste some time.

After that, I wrote the first draft of a 6000 word short story, when really I should have been writing a synopsis of it.
There's a good reason for this- the story is a ghost story based on historical fact, and a synopsis of it wouldn't contain the atmosphere, liberal smattering of verifiable period detail and little misdirections and suggestions that hold the thing together. Well it could do, but it would be about two thirds of the length of the actual story if it did and be about an eighth as interesting. So, caution to the wind, I did a first pass at the whole thing, which takes longer for me to produce and the possible purchaser of the story to digest obviously, but hopeful affords us both a bit more pleasure.

I'm quite pleased with it, it feels like it obeys the rules of the form quite nicely in a sort of MR James gets a bit more with it kinda way, and sends a little pleasurable chill up my spine. It has a proper plot too, which is a relief because my last short story was such a mood piece- just a very long conversation hinting at a plot really.

Fingers crossed, if it's knocked back I'll find somewhere to pop it on-line.

1 comment:

Stuart Douglas said...

'eager to waste some time' - it could be on my family coat of arms, had we such a thing and were it a phrase easily tranlated into the Latin.