The Long Haul to One Hundred and Seventy-Five Short Stories

short-story

“I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice.” ― Andre Dubus

I began writing when I was young.

Well, back then I drew pictures and wrote little stories beneath them in a prehistoric blog-like fashion. The first story I remember writing was about God. Couldn’t have been more than five years old at the time and I’m sure it wasn’t much of a story. The only reason I remember it is because I was severely punished for it. Not the story so much as the crayon drawing of God accompanying it. Just a bearded man sitting on a chair in the clouds. To this day I have no idea why it sparked so much anger.

In school, I devoured comic books and my storytelling reflected this as I scribbled comic panels in my composition notebooks and sometimes my textbooks if I ran out of paper. I only shifted gears to prose after Frank Herbert absolutely blew my mind with the first book in his Dune series that I read in the sixth grade to impress a girl named Jeanette Baker.

It was her favorite book.

Ultimately, she wasn’t all that impressed by either me or my ability to read feudal interstellar societal science fiction, but Paul Atreides, The Bene Gesserit, The Fremen, and The Spice Melange left a lasting impression on me.

Unavoidable circumstances after college pulled me away from writing for longer than I’m happy to admit, but today marks the completion of my one hundred and seventy-fifth short story since I was lured back into writing after reading a copy of Harlan Ellison’s short story collection, Strange Wine, in a public library tucked away in Portsmouth Virginia.

Another mind-altering experience, as Harlan introduced me to the world of speculative fiction.

This milestone doesn’t include my detours into graphic novel self-publishing or article writing and short/feature-length screenwriting. Nor does it include the many and various unfinished stories that inhabit my Story Box Full of Regret. Many were picked up by a number of magazines, vanity press, and now-defunct publications during the halcyon days of snail mail querying and submissions, some of which are posted on this site, two are viewable at MasticadoresIndia, and only thirteen have been forever filed away in the fad drawer due to severely outdated themes.

Of the remaining one hundred and sixty-nine stories, only six are so cringe-inducingly bad that I refuse to revise them. They serve as a reminder of just how awful my writing can be when I’m off my game and a yardstick as to how far I’ve come since my far-too-late-in-life return to the medium.

The one hundred fifty-two on the rung above are mostly inspired by actual events, ripped from the pages of my journal—when I used to keep a journal—and fictionalized into speculative and science fiction, horror, and modern-day twisted fairy tale pieces. This was when I followed that old chestnut piece of writing advice, Write what you know. These stories know the terrain well enough since they’ve been around the block a time or two. All they need is a bit of a touch-up, light revision at the most, before they make their rounds again. I’m confident they’ll find a home somewhere.

The final eleven are hatchlings, newbie stories that are a tad more introspective and feature solid speculative elements. I’m a proud Papa so I must admit that these tales are my best, though if I had my druthers I would have planted their roots more firmly in the soil of either horror or science fiction instead of having them languish somewhere in the bleed of the two genres.

Of these, four are out for approval which leaves seven that I’m in the midst of revising before they join their brothers and sisters in the cold cruel world. The aim naturally is to send them all out so that can quit bugging me about wanting to be read. They can be so annoying that way.

Cheers for humoring me as I wool-gathered.

35 responses to “The Long Haul to One Hundred and Seventy-Five Short Stories

  1. I can’t speak for anybody else but I’m so glad you came back to writing, and even though you consider it to be late in life, I feel it’s never too late to restart doing things you love to do, no matter how long you’ve been away from it.

    It’s no big secret that I enjoy your posts, whether they’re fiction pieces or slivers of your life. They’re all so good and I bow my head in appreciation of the way you deliver words.

    Good luck with all your stories and I hope they all find a home.

    I know they will eventually.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I try not to regret anything (and sometimes I’m even successful at it) but I’ve reached the point in my life where I have no enemy but time and I still have not written the Great American Novel (an archaic dream, I know, but a real one, nonetheless), filmed my dream project, directed an animated feature, put on my one-man off-broadway show, or produced the ultimate radio drama (don’t look at me like that, a man can dream).

      But I’m a stubborn bastard and to modify the Michaelangelo quote, “I see my works in the surrounding marble and I intend to carve until I set them free.”

      Cheers for the compliments, Suranne, for being a loyal reader, and for your vote of confidence! They’re all greatly appreciated!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. What’s Jeanette Baker’s deal? I wish a boy would’ve read my favorite book trying to impress me! Her loss! Hold your head high and never stop trying to impress women by showing an interest in their hobbies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Jeanette was not the last lady I read books for in an attempt to make a connection. None ever led to a romantic relationship but established the foundation for more than a few awesome friendships.

      What’s your favorite book, Cuca? I’ll give it a once-over for you. Cheers for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Dude, I’m not gonna swell your head because you already know I dig your writing. But I gotta say I’m intrigued by the thirteen stories that have been “forever filed away in the fad drawer due to severely outdated themes” and the six other ones that are “so cringe-inducingly bad.”
    Why not post them on the site? You’re not doing anything with them anyway. I’m interested in seeing the stuff you want to hide because I’m masochistic that way.
    Put them up!
    Put them up!
    Put them up!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Be patient, dude. I make it a habit to never say never because of my mercurial nature, so there just might come a time when I’m bored or masochistic enough to post the cringe stories for the world to tell me what a hack I am. Everyone could use a good humbling every now and again. Cheers for the compliment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think “Strange Wine” is one of Ellison’s better collections but I may be biased because it was my first exposure to his work and made me want to pick up the pen again.

      My “fad drawer” embarrasses me because I tend to stay away from what’s popular at the time, but every so often a sub-genre pops up and I feel the need to dip my literary toes in it, always to disastrous results. Some lessons will never be learned.

      Cheers for the well-wishes and the compliment, Kirsten! Always appreciate hearing from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a matter of pride and joy to be one of your regular readers. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice the two behind my stony exterior. You are a wonderful writer who just takes the reader along on a smooth and wondrous journey, no matter how long or short the story, one can’t stop reading till the end. I think you write what you know and also what you really don’t but can somehow contemplate. Keep writing and send those brats out there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These glimpses of the writer behind the stories always fascinate me. I think of my own Writing Box with the forgotten typed, double-spaced stories and their accompanying rejection slips as well as the half-finished manuscripts that will never find a resolution.

    None of my early efforts ever made it to the Promised Land. None of my other work ever did either, for that matter. I know what it’s like to lose the light and go years without a creative outlet, so I have nothing but the utmost respect for you for finding the words again.

    Your stories live and breathe and shine a mirror on your readers and we connect with them–and with you–through your words. Thanks so much for letting us take a peek behind the curtain, Rhyan. May the ideas always flow and may the words always come easily. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Don’t get me started on rejection letters. I’ve been rejected by all the greats. One day I might even get around to compiling those rejection letters into book form and publishing them just to torture myself.

      When it comes to writing, I’m like Sisyphus eternally rolling that damned boulder up that forsaken hill. It used to come so easy and now it’s a daily struggle and my old man fossilized brain can’t keep up with the shifting trends and I fear that my ideas are too old-fashioned to be relevant to the readership of today. Blah-blah-blah…the typical lament of a writer past his sell-by date.

      Cheers for the read, the compliment, and the well-wishes, they’re all greatly appreciated!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. “Write what you know”- oof! Yes. I’ve been trying, I have so many WIPs where I had to stop writing something because I didn’t know enough, I was attached to the story too. Some part of me still wants to go ahead and finish them even if it takes a while tho.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I’ve altered “write what you know” a bit over the years to “inject what you know into areas you know nothing about, and write it anyway.” I may not always achieve the optimal effect but I give it my best shot in order to get the story out of my head and onto the page.

      Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice from an absolute stranger: Those unfinished WIPs you’re attached to, write ’em to completion anyway. You can always go back and rewrite them at a later date when your knowledge base has increased.

      Best of luck to you, Pearl, in all your endeavors!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I too thought “Dune” was awesome. Comics also inspired me when I was young. They’re actually what launched me into reading science fiction.
    175 short stories is amazing. That’s a lot of work. Anyway, I’m flattered that you liked something I wrote. Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The book in the Dune-verse is one of my all-time favorites (the rest of the series not so much) despite the emphasis on world-building over characterization, but that was true with most of the science fiction epics of that period, I suppose.

      I loved reading when I was younger and for some reason that fell off and like you, I was drawn back into becoming a fiction reader after developing a love for comic books.

      As for your piece, Dianne, I found it interesting, so thank you for sharing it. I definitely will revisit your site to check out more of your work. Cheers for the read and comment!

      Like

Leave a Reply to Meenal Vashistha Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s