Yesterday I discovered my story “The Man Who Would” has been long listed for the 50 Stories for Pakistan anthology. It was a huge buzz given last week marked a return to real writing after months in the wilderness. I share the honour with my business partner Paul Anderson; my writing partner and best friend Annie Evett; several Chinese Whisperings authors: Laura Eno, Emma Newman and Benjamin Solah; and facebook writing pal Trevor Belshaw.
I first heard about 50 Stories for Pakistan via an early morning email from Greg McQueen while staying in Melbourne for WorldCon. While I’d thrown eMergent Publishing’s support behind the project in whatever capacity Greg needed, I also wanted to contribute a story. However, I’m not one known for penning stories under 500. To be honest 1000 is a press most times. But I was dertemined. This is what happens when you hang out with awesomely talented folk like Dan Powell (who first introduced me to Greg via 100 Stories for Haiti) who inspire you to write like there’s no tomorrow.
A story shadowed me, but didn’t seem to actually solidify, a bit like the Inhuman anthology for AXP. And last week wasn’t the best week, given I had an installment to write for Choose Your Online Adventure (which ended up being two), a Write Anything article to write, a birthday invite to create (which I realised was much huger than it was AFTER I’d agreed) oh and we’d divided the start of the week between Cairns and Brisbane.
To my great relief, Thursday afternoon, I stumbled across an amazing world-record breaking story while researching the year 1960 for my StepMum’s birthday invitation. Joseph Kittinger broke the record that year for the highest, longest and fastest sky dive in history. The speed record stuck until 2005! He jumped from 102,000 feet, including free falling for 16 miles. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m terrified of heights and my days of being a speed junkie are well and truly over… but Kittinger’s story entranced me.
On the drive to pick my son up from school “The Man Who Would” was born. It’s not so much a story about crazy off-planet sky diving, but about legal bureaucracies, corporate power and the fear of litigation which threaten to crush the big dreams of ordinary people. The title riffs from a Dr Who episode and shadows the theme of legacy inherent in the story. I was graciously assisted by Jason Coggins, who pulled my story to pieces so I could put it back together in an even better way (thus my main character Jack literally became harder and faster!), Annie who beta read and Lily Mulholland who proof read late on a Saturday night when she was shattered from a big day with her family.
I’m crossing my fingers it makes the short list. If not, it proves a few things to me which are lessons well learnt. Firstly I am able to pen something meaningful in under 500 words. Secondly, I am able to diverge from ‘weird, dark shit’ once in a while and write something uplifting, thought-provoking even! And lastly, strange things happen when you hang out on Wikipedia too long.