Back in 2008, I had a published mystery novel, LONE STAR DEATH, that weighed in around 85,000 words. I wanted to write short stories since I really enjoyed them when I was much younger. I started out with flash fiction and came up with a story of 500 words. Writing a short story is sometimes harder than writing a novel (yeah it is) because you have to encompass the entire story line in such a small space.
At that time, I thought I'd never be able to write a longer short story. I wrote a lot of poetry, and of course, it's much shorter. Over the years, though, I started reading voraciously---collections of mystery and macabre short stories. I read them online, in older library books, new e-book collections/anthologies I purchased through Amazon for my Kindle and haunted used bookstores for sometimes rare volumes. Reading those was a huge education for me, and eventually my brain started seeing how I could write longer stories, too.
Eventually, I wrote several stories in the "Nameless, Texas" short story series. These were longer, but not nearly as long as this new one.
So I did. Yesterday, I finished a new story that is around 8,550 words. I did it in four drafts, adding a bit more each time. And it only took me a month, in addition to all the other writing I'm doing (volunteer work for the local Art Guild, editing friend's work, blogging, e-mails, bits and pieces of my novel in progress, etc.)
I'm really proud of the story. I think (and friends agree) that it's the best thing I've written--so far. "The Passing of Big Mama Mayhall" is a macabre, strange story that could mostly be categorized as Southern Gothic. And maybe a bit "Hitchcockian."
So, writing the story was the FIRST step. Now I have to decide what to do with it. I tried not to worry about this while writing the story---that's something I frequently get all jacked up about. Sometimes I write to themes or specific Calls for Submissions, sometimes a line will come to me. This time, the first line came to me as a bit of dialogue.
"Elsie, honey. I'm so sorry . . . Big Mama has done gone and passed." From there, the characters started speaking, and the story emerged.
Happy trails from Texas!