Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Figo at Ether

Last night I received the absolutely gas news that my stories were liked by Ether Books' fiction guru and they will be up this week. What followed was a quite funny discussion about how to translate Cool! into Italian, but we eventually agreed it was Figo, which can do.

Ether seems the ultimate in cool (stories are downloaded as iPhone applications, bite-sized fiction that gives short story appreciation a kick in the pants) and I have already hooked up with one lovely author and look forward to joining the very active and warm community. Still not sure how many stories they are publishing, and I must download some of the other writers and start to give back.

Do you give back to other writers?

I must say that, using my ex-husband's credit card and calling it 'work expenses', I do.

On another note I am reading Grace Paley's superb and sweeping stories. I sit there laughing in bed. All the unchanging human nature she manages to tighten into a small nut, with such playful language that in anyone's else mouth might sound just overwrought.

What a mistress, what a striding pace.

+ + +

P.S. Now I am crew member of The View From Here www.theviewfromhere.com and my first article 'Interlinked Stories - Do They a Novel Make?' is up online. I took Raymond Carver as my springboard, never tire of that man.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

So much to say, should I say it?

When I was much younger I wrote a novel which still, somehow, exists. That was in the pre-history my kids cannot truly believe it was possible to suffer. No computers, no mobile phones, no Facebook, no copy-and-paste. (In fact, of all the aforementioned, my love affair with copy-and-paste is deep and shall be neverending.) Although for years I haven't looked at this book. At the time I was possessed. I worry about this. I thought I had a brilliant story, brilliant characters. I think I killed a stand-in for my smug ex-boyfriend in a miner's pit in the desert. Nice one, that. The book also mapped my going away, my departure from the Sydney culture of the 70s and 80s that I was steeped in. It's grown quite trendy I see, going back there. Perhaps I could glean some material?

I wrote several books after that, all came close to publication until the last - bless her! - was taken up and is coming out soon. What remains are dozens of short stories, my deepest most fitful passion, and a huge Ghanaian love story/novel requiring major revision that I don't want to lay to rest.

Importantly, no agent wants short stories. No matter how kindly good short story writers tell you to push, to try, there's a market out there. Even friends who borrow my english books, they have to be urged to try stories, and may or may not come back raving. That's why while I am back with my laptop in the graceful morning light of my bed - my camp site - eeking out my new stories, the printed draft of my novel is sitting patiently on the covers, expecting my red pen and a trip to the bar.

And what about interconnected stories? Long ago a super agent told me if I couldn't provide the Big Novel (she loved my story in a Virago anthology) why not a series of interconnected stories? I was horrified, almost insulted. But how could a short story assume its place next to something else, something pre-conceived or pre-packaged like some cheap confection? Neither one nor the other - pah!

And yet this year I started it. Or they came to me, they were not forced. An event perhaps too close to my own bones and a group of people going backwards, pulling against each other. Am I wrong to enjoy writing these? Coaxing out stories with their quick cadences and reachable word limit - so much less oppressive than the stamina and pace and self-drive required for the production of a 200+ page novel?

Am I a cheat?

That is what is happening now and I am wondering. Whether each story is coming from the right place - the turning-over-of-your-stomach that has to be pinioned and unveiled, and whether the stories will truly stand up together as a credible bound thing or look like a 3-in-1 offer, neither one nor the other?

In the meantime I won't stop too long to question. Just get it down, just get it down.