Do you know what grows Under the Stairs?
Despite what people tell me, I don’t feel like a writer.
There are stories in me that muck about swirling and whirling and flicking their tails at me from the surface of my mind-water. But they’re awfully fickle. Hard to grab onto. Most often when I think I have a story to tell something in my life pulls me away from it–either my own self-doubt or something else shiny that is far easier than writing. (I’m sorry, but writing is hard. Please ask all the very talented writers who force themselves to do it everyday because they have too or no food for them.)
My real want is that I wish to tell people things.
I want to express an idea or an emotion, a memory or some event in such a way that people understand. They can tap the screen or the paper and go, holy crap! That’s me–I’ve been there! Or, wow, that sounds so real. I would have done that.
But I set out to make it a personal goal never to call myself a writer. Or a poet. Not intentionally and never, ever seriously.
Last November as I logged into an art site I usually put my photos, poems, scraps of writing up for the world to view…Or not view as they please. I opened a little note someone I’d never seen before sent me. I have said it before and I will say it again: movies often use this stop-time effect. The main character has something happen to them that is either so awesome or so awful, everything around them becomes muted in sound, Gaussian blurred in color and slow-motion in speed as the main character’s heart rate skips to a thunderous roar and their mind scatters a thousand miles a minute. That was me at that moment, when I opened the note and saw someone write: Would you be interested in submitting a story to be edited and perhaps, published?
My first thought to that was: HURRR HURRR HURRRRRRRRRRRR ME WRITE WERDS FER U?
And after an hour and a half staring at that letter I texted my husband and wrangled my best-far-away-online friend so that I could panic and hyperventilate all over them both. THEY WANT ONE OF MY STORIES, I cried. IT’S NOT EVEN ONE OF MY GOOD ONES, I moaned. WHAT IF THEY DON’T LIKE ANYTHING I SEND THEM? I gasped. And my husband and friend, shining lights of common sense as well as calm said, “Just submit it, idiot. The worst that can happen is they say ‘not this one,’ and you can try again.”
So I sent in my first story.
I realized too late that I had used the lyrics of a song I do not own the copy rights to when writing this story and sadly, they had to reject it. I admit that my mood would have nose-dived into the pool of woe after that if it wasn’t for the fact the editor asked me, “Do you have any other stories you want to submit?” Which fishtailed me back into my mature, structured state of OH MY GOD WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DO WHICH STORY SHOULD I PICK WHAT AM I ON FIRE WHO IS THAT OH GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. Then the click of the keys jarred me; a bell stroke from the cathedral of ides, an echo from a story I had long forgotten.
Sixteen fingers, I thought.
That was a gamble because the story, while beloved by Stacey (HI STACEY) and several of my blogging friends, it didn’t seem to get as much attention or commentary as other stories of mine. I had worked on it, personally editing it for almost a year off and on–finding all the horrible mistakes I always make and striving to make it flow a little better. At over a 1000 words, its a big story to chew through. Keeping someone’s attention through a piece with little dialogue or action….I didn’t know. I thought it would be boring. I sent it in after nearly finding myself in tears over a Queary letter: what was it? I’d never heard of it before. How do I write it? What should I put on it? How do I write about my achievements as an ‘author’ when I didn’t have any? After hours of staring at a blinking cursor, I chose the path of honesty and then sent the story off.
A week later, the only edits I was asked to do were to fix some spacing issues.I was sent a contract to sign, poured over it with my husband and found it relatively sound. I signed that and sent it all in.
Then I did something that I believe more authors know about that I do–I waited. I waited. I wondered. I doubted. I worried. I began to think that maybe they wouldn’t take it anyway. Maybe it really wasn’t good enough. Maybe you were being a little over confident and a whole bushel of arrogant to think that story was half as good as you believed? When that little voice became louder and louder, gnawing away at my resolve? That’s when I pushed the idea of all of this further and further away. I set it aside, stuck my head in the mental-sandbox of my life then went on with it.
In early January I received a draft copy of the publication with my story in it and a tentative release/print date.
The deliciously bitter sweet irony of it all is that I do not think I will ever have the talent to properly express the feeling of having been approached for a story, and being published for the first time. Where and how big or how small doesn’t matter–it’s your words on paper or in a file some where. It’s yours and people you have never met are reading it. Not only that? But the other stories are amazeballs. I feel like I am out written, out done and wonderfully so by such a talented bunch of new writers it’s not even funny. (Okay, maybe I could make it funny, but I am still riding on the warm glow of they like me? They really like me?!)
So instead of trying to tell you about what I am feeling, I will just flap my little muppet arms a little more and show you this instead.
Two children open a forbidden door under the stairs…
A barkeep shuts his doors one night every year for a special party…
Do you really know the Muffin Man…
A boy’s chance to save the world rests in the hands of a dismissive pterodactyl…
Big troubles come to a wizard when he loses his hat…
A former police officer decides to face the events of his past…
A woman’s relationship with her husband causes her to face a disturbing truth…
A time when the end is really the beginning…
The short story collection Under the Stairs was an idea born in response to Flash Fiction Month on a popular art and literature website. This collection contains 20 stories of various genres written by authors from around the world. Each story is under 2000 words in length and is sure to keep the reader entertained.
Stories in this collection:
Under the Stairs (M. Jarboe)
A Night Off (Dave Rudden)
Hot Stuff (Stephanie Jordan)
The Trolly Thief (Rachel Worsley)
Catch (Verena Sandford)
Rob Meets Pterodactyl (Helen Harvey)
Sixteen Fingers (M. Pence) <–That’s me OMG OMG OMG OMG WEEE!
Baking Through Suicide (Matthew Taylor)
The One Star (Gwin Pearce)
The Forgetful Wizard (George Lasher)
The Gardener (Megan Kennedy)
Midnight Dreams (Lillian Leader)
One-Way Ticket (Elizabeth Harvey)
Swap (Morgan Lane)
Matthew Lucas Davis (Jennifer Childs-Biddle)
Truth (Verena Sandford)
La Petite Sirene (Alex Fox)
A Parley with the Wasps (Elizabeth Layne)
Sex, Guns and Lies (Natasha McNeely)
The End (Lisa D. Keele)
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