Readers of this blog will mostly know me for the software I’ve written, most likely Upstart or my work on Ubuntu, but there’s another kind of writing I enjoy doing and it’s something I haven’t taken much time to do in the last few years.
Like everyone else I had to do some creative writing at school, but I really enjoyed it and took it quite a bit further writing many short stories over the years.
A friend of mine is taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, and the two of us discussed ways of practicing and, most of all, warming up for it. After all, writing over 1,650 words of a novel a day is no mean feat to go into stone cold. She’s been using 750words.com for a while, and I suggested she use that to write short stories along the lines of her planned novel, but not to be used for it, to practice.
Discussing it really fired up my desire to do some writing again myself, so I decided to join her. But obviously rather than copying, I decided to do something completely different in tone.
Each day in October, leading up to Halloween, I’m writing a short story myself. Since that’s a spooky event, I’m vaguely sticking to a horror theme for the stories. I say vaguely because it’s quite easy to slip from horror to other genres, such as science-fiction or thrillers, but the intent is certainly there that these all have a darker theme than usual.
I’ve also been using 750words.com for the most part, with an aim that each story be a minimum of that in length. One of the most interesting outcomes is that the earliest stories were hard work to reach 750 words from a simple idea, whereas the latest ones easily reach 1,000. In fact my latest story is almost twice the minimum length.
But at the end of the day, they are roughly 3-5 pages each and since they’re posted and published each day, they’re more akin to first drafts of ideas than polished works. I remember reading once about an author who would pin up the pages of a story he was writing to a shop window as each one came off the typewriter (Google tells me this was almost certainly Harlan Ellison), I like to think I’m doing the Internet-era equivalent.
Perhaps they will give some people joy and delight, or perhaps they will give some people nightmares. Even if not, I’m enjoying writing them!
You can read those so far at http://netsplit.com/halloween/ in all the usual formats, and check back every day or so for new ones if you like what you read.