People still ask me from time to time about my short fiction, and this seems like as good a place as any to post it all. I don’t write short fiction really these days, especially not the way I used to. Which is to say that once I wrote my first novel, I never wanted to go back to trying to make so few words mean so much more.
But from around 1995 to 2000 I spent quite a bit of time working on short stories. Looking back now it kind of boggles my mind that I really worked very hard on a handful of these. And while I know I submitted a few to magazines (sorry, literary journals), I never was published. I think Sludge, which is my favorite, was a runner up (or runner up to the runner up) in a contest that I can’t recall, but otherwise none of them had any publicity of any sort. (Side note about that contest – I did get a handwritten note saying that a couple of judges really, really liked my story, but that others didn’t at all, and so I should be encouraged and please continue to write. So that was nice.)
Anyway, here are the stories I’ve written, all dug up from the catacombs of my hard drive…
- Sludge (1997-8): I wrote this in three parts when I was experimenting with an email newsletter, basically in a precursor to blogging. It’s always been my favorite piece because it does everything I want it to, sharing feelings of anxiety and uncertainty in, what I think, is a weird and unique way.
- All this Evolution Before Breakfast (1997-8): Funny how time changes your perspective on things. I used to be so proud of this story – I was in the middle of wanting to write like Raymond Carver and this was my attempt to shove as much sensory detail into the smallest story possible. Now it seems pretty forced, but it does what I wanted it to.
- Independent Coordination, Pt I (2000): This is my one weird fiction, my attempt to write a piece in the Cthulhu Mythos vein that has nothing to do with the Mythos. It’s actually part of a larger story that I never finished. Looking through my notes, I see that I have a lot of other parts to this sketched out, but nothing actually complete. If I were to continue working on any short fiction, this would be the one.
- Money to Burn (2000): I remember writing this after a particularly drunken night at the local sushi restaurant. Clearly I wanted to share something about not only the senses of the sushi, but also about being overwhelmed. Not sure if it worked.
- Barstool (2001): This piece accompanied my application to the MFA Writing program at the University of San Francisco, where I applied in 2001. As my friend told me after I showed him the piece, “You’re sending this in as your application? Well, I have to admit that it’s definitely bold and kinda out there.” I didn’t actually finish my application – one of my letters of recommendation fell through, and then I realized that I didn’t want to spend my time hustling for good grades when I didn’t spend enough time writing anyway. Clearly, though, I was watching a lot of WWII movies at the time, and though it’s a bit long, I do think the end works pretty well. It surprised even me.