What constitutes a story? How long should one be? I ask because I enjoy writing, yet have no real ‘finished’ stories. I do have lots of little pieces however. Vignettes if you will. Snapshots.
Written pictures of a moment I see with luminous clarity in my imagination. I read them back to myself and I think they are good, worthy of being read, yet most people who do read them (an admittedly small group) always tend to go “and? What next?”
I try to explain there is no next, and in a way this lack of follow-up is their whole beauty to me, but all I get are blank looks. Personally I like being given the opportunity to work out what comes next for myself.
What happened after the Snow White rode off with Prince Charming? How did ‘Happily Ever After’ really work out for them? That’s what interests me. The gap left deliberately where the author steps away and says “OK, so we’ve come this far together. It’s time you went the rest of the way on your own”.
It’s something I think is closely related to my love of the random snapshot and why I adore browsing Flickr so much. Photos ask you to make your own stories around them and there’s often no one to tell you if you are wrong or right. A picture is something so very intensely personal yet impersonal at the same time – OK, all art is like this to a point, but photography and short stories are the two things that really float my boat.
I want my snapshots to be spring-boards for other people’s imaginations in the way other short stories and endings are for me. Is that being big headed, thinking I have the skill to do that?
Either way, I’ve written lots of ‘snapshots’ over the years. In my head they (mainly) form parts of a bigger narrative. There is a definite back story, plot, and characters for all of them – I’ve just chosen not to write it. Some of this is because I’ve lost interest: I’ve pinned the moment to the page, it’s fixed in my brain, and now it’s time to move on. Other times I’ve just not felt skilled enough and lacked the words. Either way, they are still complete mini-pieces.
And I do so hate to waste anything.
So I’m going to start a ‘Snapshots‘ section to Bright Meadow (you can see the page up there in the header, between the BrightCast page and the Links page). I shall, from time to time, post a snapshot for your reading delectation. I’m setting no boundaries on their length, so some will be traditional ‘short story’ length, others will be just a paragraph. Genre-wise they will stretch from the mundane to the sublime. All they will have in common is that I want you to share in my literary album and hopefully something will spark in your imagination. If you want to write a “and what happened next…”, please feel free, but I do ask you at least link back to the snapshot in question/tell me about it. I’m curious to see what happens.