Monday, February 20, 2006

The Well

About seven months ago, I had an idea for a story called The Well. It hit me all at once, as these things rarely do, but I was at work, so I sat down at lunch and sent myself an e-mail, getting as much down as I could. The funny thing was, I didn't much like the idea. It was darker than what I usually like to write, and it kind of got under my skin.

When I sat down at the computer that weekend to flesh it out, I turned out page after page, each more distasteful than the next. The more detail I added to the story, the less I liked it. I don't mind creeping out others a bit, but I think that restraint is a virtue, and I really didn't want to cross a line in my writing that I wouldn't want to cross in my reading. So, even though I thought there was a story worth telling in there somewhere, I set it aside.

A few days ago, I came across the initial e-mail. When I read it, I was struck by something -- my notes had what my attempts to flesh it out had lacked. Subtlety. Ambiguity. Restraint. There was no explicit violence or anything overtly objectionable. Just a pervasive, eerie mood, one that still managed to creep me out. So I sat down and started tinkering, and not long after, I had my first ever work of very short fiction. 775 words did what 5,000 couldn't. An interesting lesson, and one that resulted in the easiest story I've ever written of any length. Funny how things work out.

A few minutes ago, I sent it out the door. I guess we'll see soon if The Well was worth the wait.