The book, it progresses. It is now at a point where, were it demanded tomorrow, it could exist without the ending that I’ve to tweak. The characters are alive, their training wheels are off and they’re every bit breathing, painting, loving in the world whether I were to type another word or not.
Of course, because I know the ending and what needs to be laid out for it to be considered complete, there is more work to do.
Short stories frustrate me. They wind up as poems with he saids she saids, as a brief glimpse that isn’t nourishing enough, as a short, underwritten version of what should have been at least a novella, or simply as a good idea that doesn’t get to take flight. No-one writes a short story out of the same urgency as a novel or poem. When they do it is sold short or ends with a line like a teacher’s conclusion.
Mostly it’s down to preference. It’s characters I love and the unravelling that I get out of novels. Plot driven and character driven books aren’t mutually exclusive.
Always seen short story writing as a way of sharpening tools. It’s like Zorro training for his sword fights: he has to learn to do what he can within a smaller circumference before making the most of a larger space. The approach to the book alters between evenings of dialogue and progression and a quarter page a night that is immaculate. Undulating pace is the key, but when it comes to editing I’ll wind up working backwards. The short story entries season is around a month away so Rupert and Maddie are fighting for attention with a couple short stories from the Jody ‘Bird’ Grebe saga. ‘Circling the Basket’, the story of Bird visiting each of his posse, Jesse James style, following his expulsion from another school, is already twice the 5000 comp word limit and isn’t slowing yet. But mostly it is like bingeing. Having been working on Busby, abiding that diet of literary theory and way of thinking, Circling the Basket is pouring freely, gloriously, gluttonously. At the same time it is as unnerving writing without the same strict rules as pissing out the arsehole.
The solution? Rode Black Bonnie to York like Dick Turpin did on Black Bess to see his grave – another book idea buried somewhere in emailed notes over the years. Him and Jack Sheppard.