Short Stories

April 13, 2010

The blog has been quiet but I’ve been writing. Trying something new.

I’ve never attempted writing short stories before, but this year I’ve finished two. After years of training myself to shape any ideas into feature screenplay length and density and structure, it’s refreshing to just get an idea and follow it wherever it goes, without concern for page length or any of that stuff. Short stories can be smaller. Deeper.

The amazing thing for me is that I can let them stop where they stop; I can explore one idea – just one idea – all the way and then I’m done. It’s shocking how satisfying that is.

In both cases, I’ve literally woken up one morning with the whole thing there. I get to do the work of fleshing them out and trying this or that, but the scope is already there. Or it can change if I feel like it, no big deal. And that’s the point: it feels… free. Easy.

They have been very short so I can carry them around in my head, complete and whole. I can change the whole thing on a dime. I can work on them during down-time at the day job. Maybe it’s just me, but I get bogged down with this with feature scripts. There has to be enough there to carry the weight of 100 pages.¬†They’re too big and have too much mass for me to change quickly and breezily. I can’t start thinking about them during down-time at work, because by the time I get my head wrapped around the whole thing the down-time is over. I just get frustrated.

But writing short stories has actually been… fun.

Are they any good? Who knows. I put the first one up on zoetrope in February and got some nice comments. I’ll put the second one one in a few days when I’m happy with it. Are they any good? Who cares?

This is good for me because I have some projects in the queue. I’ve been talking with a friend about a picture book since December – she’s made 10 or 12 paintings and she’s handed them off to me to tie together with a story. While thinking about this I got an idea for a kids’ picture book that I’m playing around with that I might finish and then hand off to her. Plus my son reminded me of another (incomplete) bedtime story I started telling him and my younger son a few months back. AND a couple of working actors and I have been trying to bang out a sitcom pitch/premise for what seems like forever…

So these are keeping me engaged. Will these short stories amount to anything, or are they just experiments? Or just practice? Either way, they’ve gotten me back into the flow and kept me there. Reminded me that I can play, I can open up, I can change on a dime. It’s much more about this than the finished product. Good stuff.

Keep writing.