Most days, I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I get the Moleskine open in front of me and the fountain pen in my hand. Some days, I have an idea, or the briefest of ideas. Ultimately, these stories are coming out a lot more like poetry–brief images, straight-forward plots, some twists, but nothing immense. Most stories have been told in a single scene. There’s a fable-like quality, I think, running through them, so sometimes the stories aren’t functioning in quite the way stories usually function, in that they have their laser focus and nothing else matters. They’re very streamlined — and since that’s often the way I write, anyhow, there’s a chance some are too streamlined.
I have to admit, I think a few of these are rather pale, especially compared to the others. I said to M that none of these feel like my usual stories; but I’ve read a bunch of them aloud to her, and she insists they are.
The overriding theme, of course, is me. InkStains contains Stories From the Mind and Pen of John Urbancik. There’s no better way to describe them.
The challenge, of course, is Time. I knew it would be. It’s not acceptable to write a piece of a story today and finish it tomorrow (well, it is acceptable, but it wouldn’t be an InkStains story that way). With recent changes in my day job (I’ve taken on more responsibility, at least on a temporary basis, so my role and therefore my hours have shifted dramatically), my schedule has twisted into something unrecognizable. I can sleep later most mornings, but I no longer have a four-day work week, and theoretically I’m always on call.
I’ve written several stories on my lunch hour. I wander the parking lots and grounds outside my office building, find a table at which to write, and write away.
I’ve also been writing after dinner, and of course on weekends, theoretically, my time should be more my own. And in fact, while today may have a lot stuffed into its hours, Sunday I will maybe go see a movie and then spend most of the day working on a particular story which I’ve been gestating. See, they don’t all come without planning.
For Day 33, I go back to my childhood:
The alien barbarian hordes are in the woods.
“Am I dreaming?”
“Oh, I wholeheartedly doubt it, though I wouldn’t completely discount the possibility.”
Day 35 is inspired by a piece of art I got in Sydney:
Henry reaches the door. It growls and hisses at him.
Rising from the snow, shifting with the wind, absorbing the shadows and the light of the moon and the colors of aurora australis, she takes a flesh-based form.
Day 37 is the first that touches on previously published material. You might recognize the man from Necropolis:
It’s the spider she sees, not the gentleman assailant in the crisp white tux, not the gentleman assailant with the blood-stained cane.
Day 38 is written in second person — and it’s not the only such story:
Run if you can.
I have a magic box.
In Day 40, we learn that libraries contain more than just books:
Its location was a secret, and it was hidden, but it was not unknown.
Day 41, because no one likes a 4:30 meeting on a Friday:
Might as well call in The Conference Room in the Sky.
Day 42 is one of the shortest thus far, but touches on a familiar InkStains theme:
The old man laid down a great deal of ink.
The music of the universe exploded all around them, a single inarticulate note on an electric violin, as discordant as any note had ever been.
Day 44 was a brief essay about words and story:
This piece, for instance, is not strong. I’m meandering. I’m leaping blindly between contradictory conclusions.
I took 15 Feb as one of my off days to celebrate an anniversary. Today, I will write the Day 45 story, and tomorrow promises to be a lengthy bit for Day 46.
I’ve discovered a few things: the fountain pen and Moleskine do, indeed, change the way I approach the story. But so does the fact that I intend for a complete story every day; I generally go for a complete story when I sit, though I’ve been interrupted a few times. I’ve never taken a break in the midst of a piece. That may change tomorrow, when I attack a story idea that will, likely, last the whole day. Mainly, I hope I can finish it in a single day; there’s no way I’d be able to do it in a single sitting.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure.