I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now and it’s given me time to reflect on some of what I’ve done. These notes are not necessary to understand or appreciate the stories — I don’t think they’ll make them any better but I don’t think they’ll hurt them either — but to help expand my communication with the audience. I’ll add to them from time to time.
This was the first thing I posted to Beyond Ourselves and represents a lot of what I thought this site was going to be: short bursts of fiction punctuated by the occasional big release. I guess it did end up as that, but my philosophy somewhat changed along the way, as to what kinds of stories I wanted to write. I read once that Willie Nelson thought of his “Shotgun Willie” as a way to “clear his throat” and transition from being a buttoned-down Memphis/Grand Ole Opry songwriter/performer to being the “Outlaw Country” singer he ended up as and was meant to be. So this one is me sort of clearing my throat and seeing what comes up. It was necessary to get me started.
It’s the first of many stories I wrote that establishes a character and setting and ends with a transformation. Everything that happens afterward, you can sort of imagine and it didn’t feel worthwhile for me to explore. Our destitute man is now a rich and pretty girl, da-da, da-da, da-da. There is a story there, but going over it was not the point. I wanted to exercise ways of getting to transformations.
The story has proven surprisingly ambiguous. A lot of people have read it as the rich girl being punished for offering such a pittance as a reward to the man who saved her. That wasn’t my intention — just that the reward wasn’t “material.”
Another step on the path of development, here’s another simplistic story. Couples at a crossroads have become a recurring motif in my work, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s the perfect way into a gender-changing scenario as people reach a point where they need to refresh themselves and their relationships with each other across gender lines. The title is a pun I revisited with Partsexchange. Again, this is all build to a climactic transformation, and you can imagine what happens next. After writing so many other stories that explore this same territory, it really doesn’t feel like it holds up anymore. Read I Changed Sexes With My Wife, A Holiday Wish or Both instead 😛
First of all, I can never remember if I went with “Fish of the Desert” or “Fish in the Desert” in the long run. I’ve gone back and forth a few times and the whole reference to the “fish” is pretty obscure.
Out of everything I’ve posted, this one goes back the furthest and it’s likely that won’t change. I first had the idea for it in the early 2010’s or maybe even before that, and I even wrote it out in its entirety before losing it on an old PC. A really good idea has a way of staying with you and while I have oodles of notes in backlog that will probably never see the light of day, this was one I was excited to write all over again.
The differences between the old version and new one are that I created the framing device with the child, and that the original version was actually extended to be the “life story” of the grandma. I like it better this way. Again, we’re in “end with a transformation” mode but with a little bit of coda. This was one of the most “writerly” things I had posted to this time and I really impressed myself; afterward I knew I wanted to keep trying to hit some of those same notes, sometimes with success. This is one of the first stories where I heard feedback that something I had written had really touched people and resonated with them, which is a feeling money can’t buy. I was starting to realize I wasn’t going to be posting cheap and easy fiction all the time.