Much to my surprise, I completed a second short story, "Nell and Ray Go To Bed", about 1300 words, last night. Yep, with one hand tied in front of me. (For the record, typing one-handed -- with the left hand, at that -- is not a lot of fun.)
I think it's a good story. In the past, the stories I've written quickly, in one or two sittings, have actually sold faster and gotten better critical reception than stories carefully plotted in advance and written over weeks or months.
I hope to do more "Nell and Ray" stories eventually. I've had a note in my "story ideas" folder for a while that if Death had children, they'd be named Nell and Ray.
But one of the reasons I've had so much difficulty writing in recent years has been a loss of faith in my own ability to write fiction. I've found myself unable to judge, or to trust that judgment, whether what I'm writing is worth writing. I've tended to fall into the "This is crap" dead-end partway thru a story. So it may be that writing these quick, short pieces is what I need to do to get back where I don't feel like a phony by calling myself a writer. (I let my SFWA membership lapse in 2009.)
Part of the motivation for writing "Nell and Ray" may be that, while I'm not able to work or to do as much around the house, I've been reading a lot more than usual. Among that reading has been THE COLLECTED STORIES OF ROGER ZELAZNY, a 6-volume set published a few years ago by the underappreciated NESFA Press. If Zelazny's short stories are an influence, it's a pretty good one to have. Even half-assed imitation-Zelazny is worth shooting for.
|Michael Whelan's panoramic cover for the 6-volume Zelazny collection|