Uncharted Territory: Short Fiction

Earlier this week, I started a short story about a ghost. This is notable for two reasons: first, I rarely write short fiction; and second, it’s not set in the same universe as my other work (Aerdh), which has no ghosts.

The idea for it came to me unbidden on the bus ride home. I couldn’t shake it. I had done some writing on the second draft of Ariah during snatched moments of downtime at work already, so I wasn’t in the creative-stewing-wordsmithing frame of mind. But the idea took root, and settled, and I found myself writing the opening in my head while the bus trundled north. I got a strong 500 word opening down on paper as soon as I got home.

I have a clear direction for the story, a clear sense of a middle and an end for it. It’s like it fell into my brain fully formed, just waiting to be written. It feels, strangely, like a story that’s not really mine. But, i’m going to write it anyway. Even though I’m mired chest-deep in these Ariah rewrites, i’m going to write this odd little outlier of a story that, instinct says, will stay a story.

I have a problem (maybe it’s just an Aerdh specific problem) where what starts as a short story ends up as a 120,000 word novel. A minor characters ends up popping up in book after book until they get their own book. I have exactly one stand-alone short story set in this universe. Everything else ends up novellas, or linked stories that do not fare well in isolation, or as novels. It’s nagged at me, this apparent inability to write short fiction. Not quite a failure, but a decided lack of well-roundedness as an author.

There is potential in this story to just be a story, and more than that: just a story, perhaps completely in its own little universe. If it works, it I write it and it blossoms, then it will be liberating. I may have convinced myself I can only write novels, and that I can only write Aerdhish novels. And maybe that has been true – maybe it’s taken a few years of diligent, daily writing to get to a point where this story was possible to write.

It’s all very exciting. I will let you guys know how it works out.