It always starts with a voice. Sometimes there’s an idea for a person or a plot, but the pen doesn’t hit the paper until I hear a voice. Without the voice, I’m lost. Eight hours of writing means three hours of scribbling and five hours of pacing, listening and waiting. It helps to assume the role of the voice, which is one of the reasons I’m comfortable working in the first person. Dermaphoria has been written in chunks as a pseudo diary, and many chapters were refined in blog format in certain nethercorners of the web, as I found it easier to be the narrator posting a personal account of his life, anonymously on line, than to be Craig at his desk writing a novel. Sometimes, I feel the best way to inhabit the voice, or vice versa, is not to write a story, but instead write a letter.
I was out one night, during a particular cold spell with the novel. At the time, we hadn’t been falling asleep spooning, and I hadn’t been awoken with anything more generous than a thump to the head, for some time. Things weren’t going well, and another idea blew me a kiss from across the bar. I went home and, in the upper left hand corner of a blank page, I wrote Dear Lyle, without an inkling of who Lyle was or who was writing to him. As usual, when another voice competes for my attention, the novel starts calling again, making breakfast and whispering sweet nothings and rude nasties into my ear that I transcribe as quickly as possible. The letter to Lyle was continued between cold spells, on the backs of bar napkins and in my notebook. When I finally assembled my clandestine notes, I resisted the urge to strike the trappings of correspondance, normally first on my rewrite list.
Short fiction scares me, and I’ve avoided it for some time. There’s more to a short story than word count would have one believe, and I maintain that a master clocksmith is but a novice watchmaker. What follows is my first attempt in well over a decade to return to this form, and I thank you for your patience with my apprenticeship. The attached piece, The Fade, is for keeps. There’s no hourglass or stopwatch on this one. It will be here whenever you come back, and it’s dedicated to the members of the Velvet, as thanks for your unfailing support. A special shout out to Kareem for enduring my last minute edits.
To Mr. Carpenter, get better. We’ll be waiting.
Going bump in the night,