Seriously, I have a problem.
I've mentioned, I'm sure, that Elizabeth L. Brooks (the fabulous editor of He Loves me for my Brainsss!) and I are working on a collection of short-short stories.
When we originally discussed the idea, we were thinking of maybe 40 stories in the sub 1,000 word length.
(You, over there in the third row? I hear you laughing. Shut up. Seriously. Shut it.)
Thus far, I've written nine stories for the project.
After the Party - 1,016
Two Tents* - 933
Mouse Games* - 1,355
Away Games - 370
Home Inspection - 1,064
On the Job Training - 1,679
Dinner Service* - 811
Steal Not a Moment - 1,466
Surrender - 1,108
The stories with * asterisks next to them mean that the story isn't really complete. At least with Two Tents, I've got another two parts of similar length to go before I consider the story complete. Dinner Service has another two parts, Drink Service and Kitchen Service, ditto on them being the same length. Ish. I really want to steal Home Inspection, write another 1,500 words or so, and submit it for a collection. Also, Surrender isn't quite done yet either. I dunno about that one, I think I need to go back and fix some of it.
Even though I've managed to cut down my writer's bloat a bit (did I mention that my first novel, which is currently in content edits) was over 190,000 words as a first draft? My second novel, which is currently being read/reviewed for publication, is only 80,000... ) I'm still fighting a LOT with the short-short.
That being said, I really like some of these stories a lot, and I think the exercise is good for me. I might not be the short-short queen or anything, but at least in the process of working on this collection, I will get better. And that's all anyone can ask, right?
Here's a sample from On the Job Training...
“I'm Noel,” she said.
A thousand puns and jokes leapt immediately to mind, and he bit down on all of them. It was unlikely that he could make a fresh one, and no one ever appreciated those sorts of things anyway. “It's a pleasure to meet you.” That was safe enough.
Noel raised an eyebrow. “Very good. I admire your restraint. You said, earlier... it was 'mostly.' Now, adorable as my shoes are, I have to say that if you're after a cheap one-night stand, please go elsewhere. You seem interesting enough, and I'm certainly not adverse, but I have strict requirements, and I'd rather you not waste your money if you're not qualified for the position.”
“Lucid's not cheap,” Danny chipped in from over his shoulder. “So it would be an expensive one night stand.”
“Not helping me here, bro,” Chandler muttered.
Noel laughed. It wasn't a titter, a giggle, or one of those fake chortles that he was used to hearing from women in bars. It was an absolutely delighted guffaw, full on belly-laugh that shook her whole body in delightful ways and was infectious. He couldn't help answering it. He blushed, embarrassed, felt more embarrassed, having blushed, and still couldn't help laughing.
“Oh, that was wonderful,” she said, blotting carefully at the corners of her eyes with a napkin, leaving small red smudges behind. “What do you think, Danny? Is he worthy?”
Oh, god. He finished the rest of his beer.
“He drinks good beer,” Danny said, “even when his friends aren't here, so he actually likes it. He's not just showing off his hefty paycheck or his fancy palate. He plays darts a few times a month. In fact, I was expecting his crew in tonight. Responsible, too. I've never had to take his keys. And he remembers to tip.”
Chandler stared at the bartender. Really? He'd noticed that much? Suddenly Chandler felt about eight years old, being scolded for forgetting to write a thank you note, or for licking the butter knife, or any of the dozens of faux pas he'd committed in front of his grandmother. He felt the urge, however briefly, to just say never mind, pay for his beer and leave.
If he did that, though, it was doubtful he'd ever be back. Not after having such a personal witness. Oh, well. He took a deep breath, met her cool, curious gaze. If he was going down, it'd be spectacular, and in flames.