Story Time: How Konti Scrounged the World

When I went looking for the text of this story I thought for a while it had gone missing. I mean, sure I could recover the story from its book appearance so it wasn’t really lost, but my original file was apparently gone. Then I found it in an old format under a name I wasn’t looking for, in a font that was just weird. It took some cleaning up to get here, but today’s Story Time is “How Konti Scrounged the World, from the February 2000 issue of Realms of Fantasy. I’m including the introduction, written after the fact as all these are, so take it for what it’s worth.

“This story may be unique among all the stories I’ve written to date. Not because of its subject matter, or tone, or approach, or any of the likely culprits. No, it has to do with the way I work, and when it comes to deciding what story to write, I’m not in charge. Stories come from anything and anywhere: bits of an overheard conversation, an old legend combined with a new understanding, an image, an emotion. That’s why “where do you get your ideas” is such a silly question to ask a writer. Everyone above the mental level of an eggplant has ideas all the time, but not all of those ideas are stories. The real trick to writing is being able to recognize a story when one comes calling.

Except, of course, for “How Konti Scrounged the World.” It didn’t come calling ‑‑ I went and got it. I’ve always had a fondness for Creation Myths, and the clever and fun ways our ancestors answered the “how did we get here?” question. I mean, really. Mud? Transformed ants? Leftovers from the carcass of a slaughtered giant? A god’s dream? Nifty stuff. Anyway, we’d just moved into a new house and I was feeling a bit detached and out of place. Perhaps to bring some order out of the chaos I was feeling, I thought it would be fun to write a Creation Myth and I sat down with the conscious intention of doing just that. All I can figure is that there must have been some subconscious prep work going on, because in that instant Konti and his little sack appeared and the story, as they say, practically wrote itself. Wish I could do that more often. However, it would be nice if I didn’t have to pack every time.”

 

As always, “How Konti Scrounged the World” will be online until next Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Then it won’t be.

Story Time: Judgment Day

In my old neighborhood there were many tree-shadowed streets, perfect for an evening walk. Besides the health aspect, those walks were really good for letting the mind go free as one does given half a chance. On one particular walk I was considering the theological question of man’s relationship with the infinite (as one does) and found myself wondering, “What if we’ve got everything exactly backwards?” I mean, we’re human. We tend to do that. Thus “Judgment Day.”

It was originally published in Realms of Fantasy back in 2000, and a more knowledgeable friend pointed out that it was a very Gnostic story, and I could see that she was right. This is the sort of thing the writer has pointed out to them after the work is done, usually, if at all. It’s not like we understand what we’re doing at the time, at least most of the time.

Today’s Story Time is “Judgment Day.”

 

 

Standard Disclaimer: “Judgment Day” will remain available until next Wednesday, February 7th. As for what replaces it, right now your guess is as good as mine.

Story Time: Take a Long Step

Have you ever noticed, lying along the road, one sad, discarded shoe? Or maybe a boot? Now and then a cap, or work glove, but most often shoes. Rather, one shoe. I think I have seen an actual pair of shoes, once in my life. Mostly, just the one. There are a lot of theories about why this tends to happen, though we probably don’t need any other than simple human carelessness. We lose things. It’s our nature. For instance, First Reader asked me about this story just a few days ago (Didn’t you write a story about the missing shoe?) and I thought it would make a good Wednesday story. Then I couldn’t find it, and thought I had lost the file, until I remembered that I wasn’t working in MS Weird at the time, and expanded my search to include the extension of the word processor I used back then. Still miss that one, but I digress.

Story Time for this week is “Take a Long Step,” and it first appeared in Realms of Fantasy for April, 1999. This was my attempt to give at least one alternative explanation for the case of the missing shoe. Or the found shoe. It’s all a matter of perspective.

“Take a Long Step” will be available until next Wednesday, November 22nd. Then it’s something else. You know the drill.

Story Time: The Trickster’s Wife

This week’s Story Time is “The Trickster’s Wife,” originally published in Realms of Fantasy Magazine back in 2001 and later included in The Ogre’s Wife: Fairy Tales for Grownups, my first ever story collection and finalist for the World Fantasy Award. In a way this piece is a meditation on the nature and limits of fate. Mostly, however, it is a simple revenge story, using inevitable fate as the weapon.

Almost everyone knows the Norse myth of Sigyn, Loki’s wife. For his many crimes  Loki is bound to a rock in a cave where a venomous serpent drips poison on him, causing him to writhe in agony. His faithful and devoted wife catches the venom in a bowl to spare him the pain, but every now and then the bowl has to be emptied, and in that time the venom hits him and his thrashing causes earthquakes. But Sigyn is always there to catch the poison again, even though, one day, she will spill the bowl and Loki will thrash until he is free of his chains, signalling Ragnarok, the end of the world.

I always thought fate handed Sigyn a very raw deal. It occurred to me that perhaps Sigyn thought so too. Which puts her activities in an entirely different light, and so the story.

 

Standard Reminder: Next Wednesday, October 11th, the Story Time will change.  Until then, I hope you enjoy “The Trickster’s Wife.”

Fairy Gold

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“She pulled a white shirt out of her basket. Or rather, it had once been white, I judged. Now it was covered in blood.

You might be wondering, about now, why I didn’t very quickly slip out of the 4th Street Laundry and call the cops. Seems obvious, right? She’s killed someone, probably a boyfriend or girlfriend, and is cleaning up the evidence. That’s what anyone would think, but then I’m not anyone. She saw me, and very few people can. That proved she wasn’t just anyone, either. The final proof came when she produced gold coins when it came time to feed the machines. Large, antique-looking coins that should never have fit in those dinky quarter slots, and yet somehow became whatever the machine, in its low-level mechanical understanding, expected.

Fairy gold.”

 

I just finished a new story. I would be prouder of this if it hadn’t taken almost three months, which for its length is about two and half months longer than it should have. There are reasons, of course, not even counting the medical incident. There are always reasons to keep you from getting your work done, and few aside from your own will and drive to counter them. So I’m not especially proud of myself. I could have done better sooner. However, at least I did get the story done. In rough, but that’s more than half the battle. Rewriting/editing is merely painful by comparison.

So, what to do with it? Haven’t a clue at the moment. It’s the sort of thing Shawna McCarthy might have bought for ROF (or will be, once I get it cleaned up properly), but that’s in the past, so there’s no point looking there. I’m just not sure where the future is at the moment. I can only hope that there is one. I have to find it, though. It’s the kind of thing we all have to do, at some point. The path that was clear suddenly isn’t. A hope gets dashed, or you simply get turned away from one direction toward another. Life always intervenes and plans gang oft agley. Just ask the mouse. Doesn’t matter. All you can do is keep working.

Regardless, as has been said in many other contexts—you can’t win if you don’t play.