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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Calcium-Rich

I wrote the first paragraph of what is now known as "Calcium-Rich," published in Short, Fast and Deadly on July 4 of this year (see bottom of page for a direct link), in about 1996. I was writing my undergraduate honors thesis, but extraneous ideas kept coming. It was probably influenced by what my mother was telling me about the members of my extended family during our weekly phone calls. I personally had never been interested in health issues, but the constant talk of vitamins and supplements and older women having to watch and never fall created a strange place in my creative mind. I wrote the first paragraph and a little more, thinking to someday create a complex, multilayered story with this extraordinary character.

It was not to be. Much more recently, as I was mining my oldest creations to jump-start my always-meant-to-be career as a famous writer, I decided that the character could be the centerpiece of a fairy tale world. The narrator would be a member of a mining colony (like in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) in an enchanted forest. She would live with many other miners and they would have their own subculture going, rivalry with other mining colonies, etc. Then this character with her chalky habits arrives, needing a place to stay while she starts her new job in the mine.

That's where the second paragraph comes from. Robert is one of the other miners, a shaper of our little culture, influential in all our affairs. His opinion of this new arrival would create most of the tension in the developing plot.

Then I found the magnificent Short, Fast and Deadly and finally realized that, like other writers I've admired, I could create a piece of microfiction! In spite of whatever evidence this blog may provide to the contrary, I've been known for terseness and admire its virtues. I first sent a new piece in, and it was rejected. No plot, etc. Completely understandable. I trimmed "Chalk" even further, gave it a new name, and sent it in with high hopes. Which were realized later that day! I just love a fast turnaround time, whether it's for rejections or (preferably) acceptances. I think the story has a lot of impact in this short format.

Some writers feel that, once conceived, literary characters survive in some kind of limbo until their stories are told (see Six Characters in Search of an Author, for example). I hope my little mining colony isn't suffering because I cut them off so quickly. If you are a writer, I invite you to finish their story and put them out of their limbo misery. (Just give me some kind of idea credit, if you would be so kind.)