Today a short story I started working on in 2006 is published! Yes, the story may "only" be 800 words, but it took me three years to get those 800 words the way I wanted them. The story, Under the Tree, was accepted by Electric Velocipede at the end of 2009 - and today it's published in Issue 24. (The story is also included in my new collection, with Electric Velocipede's permission.)
I wanted to share a few words about the story, but SPOILER ALERT stop reading now if you'd prefer to just read the story.
Okay. It started with an image in my head: a mother watching her son sitting under a tree in his own garden. And I couldn't figure out - nor could she - what he was doing there. I got very bogged down in trying to find an explanation. Then I took the story-in-progress, which was written quite traditionally at that point, to a workshop run by the wondrous and inspiring Aimee Bender in June 2007. She encouraged us not to look for direct causes for our characters' behaviour, pointing out, quite rightly I think, that we humans very rarely have one cause for our actions and we often have no idea what has spured us to do something. Let go of cause and effect. Great. This began to release something in me ...
The next step which helped me progress with the story was reading two short story collections: Roy Kesey's All Over and Paddy O'Reilly's The End of the World. Roy's was the first example I'd seen of minimalism and experimentalism and that inspired me to move away from the traditional, take some risks, make the reader work. And Paddy's collection had a story in it (completely different from mine) which was divided into sections which each had section headings - and suddenly, using this structure, my story began to fall into place. Someone said once that sometimes structure can ride in like a knight on a white horse and save a story - and that certainly was the case here. It all started to come together.
Anyway, if you'd like to, you can read the finished story, all 800 words, here. I hope you enjoy it!