Sometimes You Write it Twice

New short story is up now, so if you’d prefer, jump straight across to read Coffee, Cake, & Ghoulets. Otherwise read on for a little about the writing process itself!

Stories are slippery things, as I’m sure I’ve said before. They never sit where you put them, or follow the course you have in mind for them. Characters are forever dashing off in different directions, or developing their personalities in strange and unforeseen ways. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m along for the ride to a certain extent, at least when we’re talking book-length.

But with short stories, I still cling to the delusion that I’m in charge. I mean, they’re short. Characters don’t have much time to get ideas into their heads. There’s no space for minor players to reinvent themselves as protagonists (or unexpected villians), or to complicate matters so spectacularly that you have to re-write the entire thing.

Or so I tell myself.

I originally wrote this week’s story, Coffee, Cake, & Ghoulets, from the point of view of Anna. And it was alright. It wasn’t the worst story I’ve written (there’s a special file for those), but it was dark. The joy in it was dim and bitter tasting, coffee left too long on the stove. It was angry, and the violence that ran underneath it whispered of a different tale altogether. It made sense – Anna was hurt and angry and scared, and there was too much violence around her for it not to seep through in the thin places.

But it wasn’t the story I wanted.

And after it had been sitting for a while, looking back at me blankly every time I opened the file, I started wondering​ about Gertrude. Where she came from, what she saw. So I sat down to find out, and found what was missing. It’s a different story entirely, and maybe not the story I had in mind, but it’s the story I wanted. It’s cakes and tea and magical beasts, and women who Take Care of Things, whether that entails Victoria’s sponge or flesh-eating monsters.

Because there’s never just one story, and we get to choose which one we tell.

And the ones I choose tend to feature cake, tea, and a little scattering of magic.

So read on!  Coffee, Cake & Ghoulets

Obligatory spooky graveyard shot.

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