How I came to write OLD SCHOOL,
How did I come to write this collection? You got a lot of nerve asking Patti, ‘cause when you get down to it, it’s your own damn fault.
Up until a couple years ago, I’d never written any short fiction. None. Zip, zero, zilch. Hell, up until maybe five years ago, I hadn’t written any fiction at all, not really.
Always wanted to be a writer, only problem being I already was one. Had a pretty comfortable career freelancing, business and financial writing, mostly about taxes. Writing fiction on spec? Told myself I didn’t have time. Told myself I couldn’t blow hours I should be investing in paying work on fun and games.
Told myself all sorts of crap to justify pissing on my own dreams.
Shit happened. I got older. People I cared about died. It sunk in that anything they hadn’t gotten around to doing, any dreams they’d skipped because they needed another paycheck, those died with them.
So I made the time and I wrote.
But I wasn’t weaned in this online writing world I’ve discovered since. I didn’t know about any of the e-zines, the flash fiction contests, none of that. My education concerning the market for fiction was what I saw on the shelves at the local Borders. All I saw there were novels. So I wrote one.
Fortunately, an agent liked it – Stacia Decker. So I signed with her, and she was the one that told me I should think about Twitter and blogs and Facebook. Well, OK, I knew about Facebook, but as far as I was concerned, that was just a way to recon any boys that might be sniffing around my teenage daughter.
And that’s how I met you, Patti.
I was just getting my feet wet in this new virtual world when you tossed out this flash fiction challenge. Write a story, a thousand words or less, something to do with Walmart.
A thousand words? That’s crazy. I had this novel mindset. It was all I knew. But I gave it a shot.
Here’s what I learned.
You can tell a hell of a story in a thousand words, but you have to break some bad habits. Gotta turn the verbosity meter all the way down. Gotta have a damn clear idea, and then get to the point in a straight line. Because that wiggle room you have when you’ve got 100K words to play with? That’s all gone.
That first story, Black Friday? People liked it. Hell, I liked it. Then you and Steve Weddle went and pulled that Discount Noir anthology together and it got included in there. That was pretty cool.