Where a good story title comes from (and what to do when you find one)

Before anything, a writer would be wise to pick up a little oddity of a notebook–a diminutive leatherbound pad with small, square pages–or to dig up the one her loving family gave her when she first mustered the courage to let on that the reason she was absent at Christmas dinner last year is because she has chosen writing–that bizarre, late-night ritual carried out in little tweaker-pad apartments around the world–as her lifelong brain tenant, her mind marinade during the wee morning hours.

A vocation that so far does not pay well.

As a general rule, she should always carry this notebook along (a pen, too, though this implement is more easily procured on the spot); the times she is on the fence as to whether she will need her notebook, decides not to carry it with her, are precisely the times she will later wish she had it.

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Early progression of an amateur writer

Thank you, Blueprint. Tell me it is going to be okay.

For this week’s installment of Readerly/Writerly, I would like to take a walk through the early progression of an amateur writer, one I will name YouMeHimHer, a most curious, conflicted creature.

Anonymity is important because some of this is embarrassing.

I should know.

Dear YouMeHimHer:

Thank you for sending us “—-“. We appreciate the chance to read this work. Unfortunately, it does not suit our upcoming issue. Best of luck in placing this writing elsewhere.

the —- editors

YouMeHimHer wakes up from a dream,

thinks maybe a short story could start that way, thinks, Maybe I can write it, then writes the first draft by hand while thumbing through The Sun Also Rises. The dream story includes plenty drinking (whiskey served neat and cold wine, the wine bottles so cold they “sweat”), and has a one-word title like “Dreamscape.” YouMeHimHer transcribes the story, prints it, puts it through one revision. What follows is a typhoon and then cartloads of scattered debris.

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Am I a writer? (Don’t answer that.)

What relief it brings to know I–

Just kidding. I am still terrified.

Welcome to the first paroxysm in what (I hope) will become a regular word-slinging idea machine. While I am hesitant to step to the platform, to chime in and take part in conversation(s) already so rich, that reluctance is the crux of this little noisette.

That merciless doubt.

It begins with a question that has no definitive answer. It is obscure, of varying germination times; it is single-cell algae multiplying with each crashing wave; it is the seventeen-year cicada. It takes on new forms at every turn, a shape-shifter waiting on each new plateau we reach.

Am I?

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IN THE SHADOW OF A CLOUD published in Quiddity 8.1

A short story of mine, “In the Shadow of a Cloud,” appears in issue 8.1 of Quiddity (International Literary Journal and Radio Program).

View Quiddity 8.1 contributors here

Purchase Quiddity 8.1 here

Special thanks to Jim Warner and the rest of the editorial crew. It feels quite nice to be a part of this journal, alongside so many talented artists.


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Filed under Featured Content, Short Stories, Writing