Oh you knew I would milk another blog out of this, come on, you KNEW it. So anyway, it's Wednesday which for the past four Wednesdays has meant a double dose of fiction from me and the brilliant, witty, amazing and modest Dana. Here is the kick off blog.
And here are the prompts and the stories they inspired:
"She was always the invisible one in the family. Nobody noticed her until the day she..."
Can You See Me Now?
"His house was filled with art deco paintings and smelled faintly of tobacco. It made me wish I were anywhere else, not sitting in that exquisite chair, searching for something to say."
Sign on the Dotted Line
Suits, Cigars and Sonnets
"Andrew was tall, dark and handsome. I hated him. Nobody believed me when I told them..."
That's So Nice
"Write about the color of pain and the taste of happiness"
Bitterness, On the Rocks
So how did it go? Brilliantly, of course.
Okay, I'll give you more than that. It was fun because I love writing. It was challenging because I'm not so good with actual deadlines. And because it was a tandem deadline that Wednesday deadline really meant that I should be basically done by Tuesday so I would have a link ready for Dana to put in her story as well. I think I made that work once. But we got them posted every Wednesday so I am completely counting it as a win.
As for the prompts...so it all started when Dana saw the first one and thought it would be fun for both of us. She could imagine a story of mine fitting in with the prompt as well as one of hers. Different stories though since we have different styles. The thing that made us both laugh when we read each other's first prompt piece was we both used a line about becoming furniture. Same feeling. Same emotions. Different point of view. First week was a success!
Then came the next story. I wrote about the double challenge of this one here. How we both looked at the prompt and saw potential for a great story but didn't notice that it was first person. And then came the stories. I was pretty pleased with mine right up until I read hers and it wrecked me. Seriously wrecked me. And here is the difference between us. When I write something and you tell me it made you cry I smile. She apologized. Oh, Dana...no no no. Don't apologize. Be proud. You wrecked me and that's a good thing.
Then the hardest one for me. I had a few ideas but nothing that would gel. I just couldn't pull a good story out. I wrote and trashed. I stalled and procrastinated so much that Tuesday came and I had nothing. Well not nothing, I knew how I was going to work around the second first person prompt of the challenge but I really didn't have much of a story. So I went to the bar. That fictional place where my characters seem to hang out and talk. A lot. My own version of Cheers I guess. So I wrote what I view as a very typical Denise Story. If I were a published author the critics would say I went back to the well for this one. Just my standard stuff. Now, that's not to say that I didn't like the story. I do. I think it's cute. I like my bar people. They are reliable story tellers for me so I really do appreciate that they hang out in my head and let me tell their stories. But that being said when I read Dana's....
Okay, wait, I'm going to back up just a bit. Before Dana would send me her link, before she even finished the polishing on this story she was already worried. She thought it might be too dark for our shared bases. See, because my bar people are rarely dark. They are funny. Light. A little nuts, but not dark. And she knows that the bulk of my stuff is like that. What would people think about this story? This dark (and I hadn't read it yet so I was taking her word) dark did I mention DARK piece? I had to remind her that I do dark as well. At one point I was going to write horror, remember? And just a few weeks before I had written a piece about a pretty dark To Do list. My readers would be fine.
And then she sent me the piece. And I changed my mind completely.
My readers wouldn't be fine. They would be fucking impressed as shit! Yes, it was dark. But it was viscerally dark. Goosebumps dark. Stomach clenching dark. The moment where you feel true fear and dread for what you just KNOW is going to happen to a character in the story. So good. And my readers were fine. And impressed. And told her so.
And this third prompt was really the capper for how different writers can be. I went light, fluffy and funny. She went dark, sinister and terrifying. Same prompt. Two stories that couldn't be more different. We were both really excited about that.
Then the last prompt. And we had to laugh. Because as different as the third prompt was, the fourth wasn't. We both saw "pain" and went right to high school and then on to a version of a revenge fantasy Which is basically what both stories are. Just two different types of revenge fantasies, but revenge fantasy none the less. I had struggled with mine a lot. Wrote and blew it up a few times. I knew who the main character was. I knew what I wanted her to go through in high school but it took me awhile to figure out how to tell her story. And even longer to figure out that I was cramming a novella in to a short story and that was part of the issue.
And through all of the struggle of trying to get it to fit I whined to Dana. It's haaaard....I'm not making it work. It's not ready... And she commiserated and agreed and never once let me off the hook. Which was great. The bitch.
I mean it though, it really was great. It was great to have a writing partner who was in it with me and not letting me off the hook (and to be fair I didn't let her either) and keeping me to a deadline and to an idea. Instead of getting halfway through a story and saying that it wasn't working then wandering off to do something else I had to get it done. Someone else was waiting on that piece before they could move on with theirs.
And the pace? A short story a week isn't really that much. I tend to do more than that normally. But they are cleaning fume stories. The ones that just bubble up to me. Organic and almost wholly formed. To actually have to dig and find a a story from a prompt? And then as soon as it was written and posted start again? Really good. Nice stretch. Glad to have a week off...but good stretch.
And here is the best part. And where I make Dana uncomfortable. She amazes me. When I read her stuff I wish I had written it. When she shares ideas I threaten to steal them. I miss her characters when she is working on a big piece and I've only been able to read the first part. I know that she has what it takes to be something big. I cannot wait to hold her first book in my hands. And to see myself mentioned in the acknowledgments. (enter big cheesy grin emoticon here)
And now you all get to say "I read her when..."