by Wendy Clark
Thank you for joining me! Today I celebrate the half-year anniversary of my short story debut, “Fatty Patty.” It’s about a now thin girl who returns to her five-year high school reunion to get revenge on the classmates who tortured her and on the boy who broke her heart. As the first in my soon-to-be released anthology of San Juan Island Stories, it’s currently free on Amazon, BN, Google Play, and Smashwords. Check it out!
I used to think I couldn’t write short. Like the 7-minute mile and two-finger whistle, short stories were utterly beyond me. They belonged to Mark Twain, Eudora Welty, and other masters filling my English syllabi. I couldn’t make anyone laugh or sigh in a few sentences no matter how desperately I tried.
Every time I penned a simple boy-meets-girl story, the girl morphed into a supermodel astrophysicist and the boy revealed himself as a time-traveler out to steal her results , and to save the future from Nazis, they decided to start a rock band…wait, what happened to my simple sweet romance?
About that time I realized my true problem.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t write a short story.
It turns out I couldn’t write a novel either.
After abandoning several epics that would make Gilgamesh nervous about his word count, I started examining the short stories I loved. One of my favorite manga (Japanese comics) begins with a man gazing on his sleeping love as he murmurs, “My relationship…I’ve decided to end it today.”
The entire story – how they met, how they misunderstood, how they persevered anyway, how they overcame the misunderstanding – is told in a mere 30 pages, most of it long image shots of Tokyo, and with a minimum of dialogue. It’s gorgeous, compelling, and most importantly, it has a happy ending I can believe in.
Thanks to studying this and other examples, I became hooked on retelling short romantic stories. Because the most painful experience of first love I can remember is high school, I gave my characters their second chances during a high school reunion.
At about the same time I righted my writing wrongs, two monumental events shifted my life:
After 12 years of planning, my boyfriend convinced me to stop putting off my travel dreams and scheduled a fantastic trip to the gorgeous San Juan Islands. We kayaked, spotted bald eagles, explored hand-crafted pottery, savored pine rum chocolates, and slept in a cabin made from the shell of an old boat. This became the setting for my San Juan Island Stories.
Second, I ran my first race. I ran less than five miles and finished in six thousandth place (#6190 actually). A few months later, after the release of my third short story, I ran over six miles and finished twenty percent faster. I’m not at a 7-minute mile. (Yet.) But I thought I couldn’t write a short story, either.
Maybe it’s time to practice my two-finger whistle.
How about you? What impossible task amazed you when you finally conquered it? Or what impossibility lies ahead, just waiting to be conquered?
BIOWendy Lynn Clark is an award-winning author of romance, young adult, and science fiction. Her San Juan Island Stories are light, sweet romances perfect for a Pacific Northwest summer day. Sign up for free stories and exclusive updates at http://www.wendylynnclark.com/.