A History of Flight and next things

Thanks to Phoebe the Wonder-Editor, “A History of Flight” has now gone from 2nd draft to 3rd and final stage. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this story is developed from a play I wrote 2 years ago. A History of Flight focuses on the back story of that play. I’m happy with it. It’s less self-consciously symbolic than much of what I’ve written recently… no, actually, that’s not true, it still wears it’s symbolism very proudly. I guess the main thing it has less of, than my recent stuff, is weirdness. It’s several degrees less weird than “Movie Night”, for example. It’s mainly, I think, just a story about people getting it wrong, and feeling terrible about it, as people often do 🙂

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on Chapter 12 of the Worm. As always, it’s slow, exacting work, and I never seem to have as much time for it as I hoped. Still, it crawls forward.

Meanwhile, in the background, I’ve been outlining a new story. This is another one I’ve had sitting around as an idea for ages. This seems to be part of my process: an idea comes, but it won’t flesh out into anything until it’s been sitting around for a couple of years, then one day I’m riding to work, or going for a run or something, when suddenly out of nowhere, the next parts of the idea come. It’s called “A Candle for Brother”. It’s a ghost story, or at least, it includes a ghost. Like one or two of my other stories, it originated as a dream. If I end up proceeding with anything like what I have currently outlined, it will be a long story: Possibly a novella, or a novelette, or whatever.

I mentioned in an earlier post, that these have been personally difficult weeks for me. A few friends have made extra effort to be supportive. Their presence has been far more valuable than I think they realise.

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Movie Night – Completed

Movie Night is finished. At various times this story has been known by other names, including – for about a year: ‘Europa’. It took longer than expected to get through the various drafts. I had particular trouble with part 1 of the story (there are 4 parts), and I’m still not completely sure it’s as good as it can be, but it was a difficult concept and I feel I’ve done as much with it as I’m able to, at least for now. So I’m calling it.

‘Movie Night’ is my first novelette. That is, something longer than a short story but not as long as a novella (novellas are at least 17,000 words and Movie Night is just under 14,000 words long). How did I come to write such a relatively long story? I’m glad you asked. Actually it’s the result of a long (4 years) experimental process that was not planned at the start, but which came into being and gradually assumed focus as I travelled the journey. Originally, in 2014 I wrote a short story entitled ‘Get Away’, which forms part 2 of Movie Night. Get Away is a deliberately obscure little story that I think would have left any reader with a lot of questions. The following year I had an idea for another story that would provide some clues to what I think of as the meta-themes in Get Away. ‘House Call’ (originally titled: ‘Forever’) forms part 3 of Movie Night. It’s not a sequel to Get Away, but it is closely, if somewhat tangentially connected. But I think the addition of House Call raised further questions about just exactly what the hell is going on in this strange universe. A couple of months ago, while holidaying in Sweden I conceived two further parts, a start and an end that would bookend the two existing stories, tie the whole thing together and hopefully give it some kind of understandable form. These have become part 1: ‘Movie Night’ and part 4: ‘Visiting Hour’.

Thus far I’m the only living soul that has read Movie Night through from start to end. I think people are going to find it a bit of a slog. I’m not sure if the connections between the 4 parts are sufficiently clear and obvious. I think most readers are likely to come to the end of it scratching their metaphorical heads and, if they have the energy, pondering, possibly re-reading sections and developing theories. And that’s pretty much the reader-experience I’ve been aiming for through the whole experiment. It’s about getting the right balance: sufficient strangeness to force you to question the story’s meaning, while at the same time, sufficient clues and connections to permit at least some level of understanding.

The difficulty now will be trying to get it placed somewhere. The market for fiction of this length is far smaller than for shorter stories. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. The little film poster at the top of this post is for a 1940 German film named: ‘Wunschkonzert’. This film – which was a pet project of Joseph Goebbels – was central in the research I undertook for part 3: ‘House Call’, and in fact features in the story, though it is not referred to by name.

In other news, I’ve started listening to Bob Dylan’s 1966 album: ‘Blonde on Blonde’. My whole life I’ve had no interest in Dylan’s music, but for some reason I’ve now developed the desire to understand it. I’ve let it into my life and I’m seeing if it gets under my skin. The times, they are a-changing.

The Flood – Completed, and Movie Night

We did a read through of The Flood on Friday night. I made final adjustments, printed it out and sent it off to the Noosa Arts Theatre One-Act Playwriting Competition this morning. I’m happy with it. Fingers crossed!

Now I’m working on an unusual project. In 2014 and 2015 I wrote two stories that paralleled each other – they covered the same events, happening to the same characters, but from the perspective of two very different dimensions – yes, It’s strange. Those two stories were “Get Away” and “Forever”. I always planned to tie these stories together with some additional content that would provide a meta-view; an explanation for how these dimensions are connected, and over the past year I’ve tried out a number of theories. During my walk in Sweden this all came together. I sat down on a rock in the middle of the arctic wilderness and made copious notes about what was needed to make a single, large, coherent piece out of these two existing stories. The resulting new amalgamation will be titled: “Movie Night”. It will probably fall short of a “Novella” by several thousand words, but it will be a very long, short story. Probably about 13 or 14 thousand words. I’m a few nights into working on this now. It’s starting to take shape.