I have always been interested in writing fiction. I just never had the framework nor made the time. But I was motivated maybe a decade ago when a friend and colleague who heard some of my stories about working with Aboriginal peoples suggested I write them down before I forgot them. I tried doing that but each story felt uncomfortable. It was like painting a tree with no surrounding landscape: where was each rooted? So I started to write novels to provide the landscape. The first of these was a story called “Life on a Ferris Wheel”, set in the Pilbara mainly around the years 1999 to 2002. I finished the story in 2010, but for a number of reasons, it has never seen the light of day. It is apparently termed creative non-fiction: taking an event and using fictional characters to retell that event.
About a month and a half ago, for reasons I can’t define, I went back to it, and started to re-edit and re-shape. As I did, a number of the stories stood up as little entities that were rooted as far as I could tell in a white person’s experiences with Aboriginal cultures. In other words, that was my landscape: I just didn’t realise it at the time.
Whether people of a literary background would class them as short stories may be debatable. I don’t see myself as one of those people so my definition may be at odds with theirs. All I did was to select small sections of narrative from “Life on a Ferris Wheel” that seemed to have a message and created a mood.
For those seeking more of a definition than I have offered, here is a useful summary from http://narrativefirst.com/articles/the-structure-of-a-short-story. Audiences crave meaning. In the case of the short story, they want an Author to respect them by sampling just enough of that greater picture that they get the idea that there could be something greater at work here, some intelligence that more closely resembles their own. Audiences leave insulted when there is no attempt at crafting something worthwhile. If Authors wish their short stories to become cherished works they would do well to investigate how to apply the mind’s problem-solving process through Character, Plot, Theme and Genre.
As I have said, whether readers will see that in what I have described as my Short Stories is up for debate and comment. But I’m comfortable with where I am at the moment, and looking forward to completing and publishing “Life on a Ferris Wheel”.
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