Well, I’ve reached a point with my novel where the only thing really left to do is sit and wait for a couple critiques to come in. I need to let my query and synopsis chill for a few days until I can get some distance on them. I’ve finished a couple promised critiques I owed that have been gnawing at the back of my brain (which could explain a lot!), so I thought this might be a good time to wrestle with technology a bit–i.e. make audio from my novel that I can listen to on the way to/from work. (In hindsight, there was already an essential flaw in my thinking–what was I going to do when I inevitably heard things that needed to be changed??? Make an audio note to add to all the other ones I never listen to later?)
What was I thinking?
I was thinking an audio format might make it easier for my mom to “read” and critique, and of course, the possibility of podcasts some time in the future.
One audio software package, eight hours, six .mp3 files, and one car CD player coaster later, I thought, well, I could use the mp3 files for a podcast now rather than later. One measly 5 min sound byte of 9 MB out of 3 GB of storage seemed a no-brainer–until I found out I’d be required to add more space just to use that extension. Not happening.
So what to feed the beastie?
In the course of finding things to record (my only two short stories and four chapters of the novel) I thought of my recently rediscovered first short story, written nearly 28 years ago–when I was a junior in college.
It was, and still is, the weirdest thing I ever wrote–which might explain why it received an honorable mention in a literary contest, despite being science fiction. I’m sorry, despite my English degree, I still don’t “get” literary fiction, even if I accidentally write some. I think some of the judges might have taken it for a political statement, since it might be construed as anti-war (is anyone except Dr. Strangelove pro-war?).
Since I went on to have a military career, and had a couple years of ROTC behind me already at the time when I wrote it, it’s safer to assume it wasn’t a reflection of anything more profound than the need to write a story short enough to be a short story.
You see, the competition was announced right after I had just changed my major to English, (much to my father’s dismay). It seemed a good omen at the time, only there was one difficulty–I didn’t have anything to enter. All my stories are novels–or part of a saga–so the obvious solution to how to prevent that from happening to my short story idea was to kill the protagonist. I didn’t even give him a name, for fear of growing attached to the doomed character and giving him a reprieve! Even better, I started with him already (going to be) dead when the story starts. Since I like SF, something futuristic was appealing, and Only the Birds and the Bees was hatched–essentially, one long death scene; I don’t hate it–after all, it was my first completed story and the first published–but I didn’t shed any tears when it went missing for 25 years. Someday–soon, I hope–it will have some company.
Until then, check out Margo’s Writing Page for Only the Birds and the Bees