Posted tagged ‘MTWTF’


May 29, 2018

I began writing Finnegans Fogbound as a respite from the One-Match Fire stories and now I find myself working on a stand-alone story “MTWTF” as a respite from Finnegans Fogbound.

In fact, I’ve written a first draft of the entire 4,000-word story in a single weekend! (This has precedent. Years ago I wrote my story “Diaspora” during a stay at a lovely bed and breakfast in New Mexico. And last fall I wrote two stories — “The Kick” and “Forest Succession” — while staying for a week at my son’s house in Seattle.)

I’ve had “MTWTF” for decades. It’s based on an incident in a past life in a faraway city among people who are now ghosts. I’d always wanted to write a story about the incident, but I could never think of a structure for telling it (or a tone). I suppose you can guess the structure I struck upon based on the title, and though it deals with a serious matter, I didn’t think I had the authority to deal with it seriously, so I booted up my snarky narrator and let him do the work. (He proved his worth most recently in my story “Old School.”) Once I had those worked out, the story flowed. 4,000 words of flow, and I half think I want to cut that some, but the story is whole as it stands, and I have already cut out much, including an entire character who merited my narrator’s comic savagery but whose backstory didn’t need to stay.

So, first draft.

I say the incident involves people who are now ghosts, and while I don’t mean that literally, I am certainly haunted by one of them. The central character, the antagonist who is a deserving victim of her own short-sighted do-goodery, has been a recurring voice in my head spanning those decades. Whenever I second guess anything I do or have done or want to do, I hear her voice. She was full of judgment then (as well as unsolicited advice) and her haint still is. I’ve wanted to write this story as an exorcism as much as to tell a comic tale. (Oddly, now that I’ve written about her, I find that I want to pummel her more and may summon her specter again for more abuse.)

So, “MTWTF.” I’ve thought about tossing a lower-case “h” into the title, but I think it weakens the impact of the acronym, and no one is going to be confused without the “h” anyway. I’ll let it simmer for a while. Maybe send it off to a friend who has graciously offered to read anything I send him (and who is getting his second novel published!!!). Come at it with a critical eye and see if there are more words I can remove or condense. And then I guess shop it around.