Did I just make a blog post telling you to give up when it gets hard? No! Sometimes stories are hard; some are easier than others but they can all be something. I’m just lazy. Buckle down and make it work, you bum!
Do what’s fun. You have nobody to answer for but yourself. You are not obligated to please anyone. Do whatever you feel like, nobody is stopping you but yourself. Take a break, start a new tale, finish an old, whatever. Total freedom!
Don’t forget that emotions are everything. If you don’t feel, the reader won’t feel. Become the character, live the scene. That is how a great story is made.
Time flows differently for writers. The moment is now. You are always writing in the present even if it’s the future or the past in the eyes of the characters and the readers.
Sometimes, when you write, you’ll come across failures, at least, if you are willing to explore. The plot will drive you forward, and as you go on, you will make up reasons to why things are happening, but sometimes, there’s will be a nagging feeling that something isn’t right; that no matter how much you try, you can’t salvage this story.
Yet, you continue on, hoping, that the solution will present itself eventually. But stories aren’t problems to be solved, they simply are, or aren’t. If there’s nothing of substance from the beginning, there won’t be any further down the line. When that happens, you’ll have to let go. I set a deadline on myself for my short stories, no more than a month. It has now been a month and I’m back where I started. The first chapter doesn’t make sense and the first chapter is everything. It is the foundation of your story; it is the one that will hold you on the right course throughout the rest of the tale. If the first chapter is solid, the ending will be too.
To reach a good foundation the backstory needs to make sense, but you cannot always find the backstory without doing a bit of drafting, and this is where the problem lay. You’ll fall in love with what you have written and you will be reluctant to let go and you’ll try everything to make it part of your tale, but it isn’t happening. You are corrupting your story, Frankensteining it with bit and pieces that shouldn’t be there, that isn’t true to the tale, and after while, it’s none redeemable and you’ll have to let go.
When the story has left your mind, it’s shackles broken, perhaps, you’ll recall a particularly good part of this tale and it will inspire you to make a brand new one! – someday… A better one, and do things right.
© Christopher Stamfors
For four years I have been working towards becoming an author. They say that it takes 5 years before you become one, before you settle into your craft; well, at least somebody said so, I don’t remember who… In one year I’ll have reached that milestone. Whether everything will fall into place or not, only time will tell. Nevertheless, it will be something to celebrate. If nothing else, it means there’s dedication and anyone that is successful today have worked hard, but not everyone that work hard is successful. It’s the sad truth but still comforting in a way. It means there’s just one thing expected of you and everything else is up to luck, or God, if you believe that sort of thing.
When I started, my ambition was even greater than my naivety, which resulted in my first work being a fantasy trilogy. I ended up with a 400 page draft but I knew even then the amount of work that needed to be done. I could not finish such a project while trying to learn the craft. This is where Flash Fiction came in. It was a prefect format to experiment and polish your craft, and most of all, it allows you to finish something.
50 stories I have written. It took a lot longer than I expected but it was a goal of mine and I have reached it. The plan was to publish them in a collection but the quality vary so much I think I’ll not… You cannot find all 50 of my stories on my site as I removed a few particularly embarrassing ones, but that doesn’t matter. There are 50 made and it will be my last – unless the urge itches me again. The format has served its purpose and it is time to do more. From Flash Fiction to Short Stories; a format that’s a bit longer but not as daunting as a novel.
I’m hoping the longer format will force me to think more about plot, to plan ahead where I otherwise would’ve just written from my gut. If I could, it would streamline my work, just a bit, to make sure I can finish as many of my ideas as possible before I die.
Here you can find what I’ve written so far: Flash Fiction
© Christopher Stamfors
I come from a prosperous family. This allows me to travel a lot. I’ve traveled along the great rivers and seen vastly different cultures with strange customs. But one thing they have in common, (as with my own) is they all worship the sun. Indeed, there’s never a time when the sun does not shine. It gives life and I could never imagine a land where it did not exist, unless it was dead and void. When I was around 30, I learned of a place such as this, only, it was not dead… In the farthest reaches of the north, there’s a land where people live and thrive, without the blessings of the sun… At this point in time, I had seen much of the world and I was ready to explore something truly alien.
I made my preparations and headed north. Settlements became fewer the further from home I went. Daylight became dimmer and days became colder. It was uncomfortable, but I was determined to see this strange land and headed on. Light became a slither on the horizon and soon there was only darkness. My eyes could no longer see the people but I sometimes heard them in their low voices. These people don’t like to be seen and is hard to approach. They are weary of strangers and they are oh so few.
Contrary to popular belief, they are indeed humans, not nightly creatures of the unknown for they still worship the light. What drove them here to begin with? I cannot say, for they won’t tell me, or perhaps they simply don’t understand me? In either case, there isn’t all complete darkness as there are many singular lights in the sky. When I first saw the night, I was amazed! I could see now what drew them here, somewhat. Was it worth abandoning the sun for the majesty of the night sky?
I stayed with them for many weeks, and already, I began to feel sluggish. I became melancholic and moved slowly and spoke lowly, as the locals. I wondered if this was how I was gonna die because though I longed for home, I dreaded the long journey back. Then, one night, the people urged me through the dark, with a solitary light in their hands they lead me to a large group of people. I was amazed as I didn’t realise they were so many. Despite their numbers, it was all quiet and soon it was entirely dark as they put out their precious light. I felt my mind was going insane in just those few moments when I saw and heard nothing. Thankfully, I felt their breaths and their shoulders rubbing against mine. After sometime, I was begging for light, when, one peculiar star seemed to grow on the nightly canvas. It grew to engulf my entire vision and was indeed as large and bright as the sun itself, if not more so. I closed my eyes and felt it’s warmth and rejuvenating rays on my body. It only lasted for a couple of moments before the sky was mostly black again, but instead of solemn silence, as I was used to, people talked and cheered. They moved energetically to wherever they belonged. I felt a rush too, from complete exhaustion to reinvigoration, I had never felt happier as I was then.
I understood then that this was a way of living. They endured the suffering to be blessed with the gift of light. I never found out how often this occurred, for though I stayed for many months, I never got to know any of them. They accepted my presence, but that was all. It’s the allure of their kind, the mysteriousness, their reclusive happiness that only they could understand.
With my strength regained, I took the opportunity to head home and I don’t think anyone ever believed what I told. Regardless, I saw what I saw and felt what I felt. It is up to others to experience the same thing I did, to visit the north and experience what true happiness surely is like.
© Christopher Stamfors
One day, I just sat by my typewriter wrote what I saw… Here’s the result.
I am here, in this room, a kitchen of a small apartment in suburbia, Sweden. There’s a small kitchen table in the middle of the room. Before me is a window. On the windshield there’s a toaster, a cacti, a lamp, and a mixer. The blinds are pulled halfway and the window is slightly dirty. They will never be cleaned, has never been cleaned, as far as I know. Outside people pass. To where? I haven’t a clue. It is Sunday morning. Where do people go on Sunday mornings?
A man stops and looks my way. The drapes cover his face so I can’t be sure if it is me he’s eyeing. He has not moved for quite some time now. I wonder what he’s thinking about… He’s gone now, save for an empty cigarette pack on the ground.
The grass is green and there’s a dog poop on the sidewalk. I stepped on one once, trying to save a few seconds cutting over the grass. There’s stuff on the counter; a dirty frying pan from yesterday and a pot I used to boil potatoes, also not cleaned. There’s dirty dishes in the tray and clean ones in the holder, waiting to be put in their place. I hate doing the dishes. I also hate how dirty it gets… Is it worth cleaning everyday to to keep it neat? I don’t think so. We all have different priorities. I wish it could be avoided altogether…
There are papers (…) Had to rewind the ink roles on my typewriter (…)
There are papers scattered over the kitchen table, both for drawing and writing. One has become easier and the other more important…
Idea lurk at my periphery. If I look directly at them, they disappear. I’m certain there are people living in the cacti. I see them when I write, climbing the stalk, but disappear when I go nearer to have a closer look. I wonder where they come from…
If I sit long enough, and do nothing, I feel tugging at the sleeves of my pants. Creatures under the table hurrying me on. They are bigger than the cacti people, more bothersome. I don’t see how if I’m writing or not is anyone’s business but my own. Yet they urge me to continue to work, to write them. Why should I write about such ugly creature, I say to them? They don’t have an answer to that… I should stop typing for now. I’ve bother the neighbours for long enough…
© Christopher Stamfors
They talked. The strangest group there ever was of four creatures of childlike stature. Their eyes wide on the man that sat across to them. Well, in reality, it was he who talked and they listened. He were their patron, showering them with words of value, of truth, which is valuable. He said many things, spellbinding things, things only he would say. They were also words of truth for if there was one thing all four of them had learned is that he always spoke the truth. He was also the handsome sort, with a fair complexion; straight nosed, tall, and well built. The opposite of them. He was a rare breed, in these parts. Yet, with all his fairness, he hid his face under a hood. His visage always partly shaded wherever he sat or stood. One would never see his true countenance, not at once. But they, who had listened to his words of truth on many occasions were not concerned with his appearance but what he said, what he could do!
There’s a reason they believed his words and it was because he never said what he couldn’t do or show. There’s profit to be made from his words that danced from ear to ear, their grotesque deformed ears… The room was dimly lit by the hearth of the fire place and murk from pipe smoke that surrounded them in a mist. It was starting to get cold, or maybe it was his words that made them shiver, for this day he spoke of terrible things, things gruesome and void. And what we have already established, he only spoke the truth, which made it all the more terrible, terribly real!
There was a peculiar quirk about his words and that was they could never be recounted. They were words one felt. You didn’t hear them, not a singular word but the whole tale at once. It lingered and only they knew what was said. The stranger left that night, like he always did at the first howl of the night, and left the four ugly creatures to lament. They looked at each other. They knew what the other thought for they had heard the same thing, and they were friends, at least as friendly as creatures, such as them, could be. On the left end of the table, smoke rose and evaporated from the lips of one of them, the one quickest to words, and he said. “He must die.”
The others knew this as well, and nodded slowly in agreement. But the question was how and when? Next time, they agreed. The next time he came to speak, and they to listen, the stranger would die. Then how was he to die? With the means that they were able, for they were all able. Even creatures as small has them had their own ways to make problems go away…
The night came and they acted well enough, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. It was not a difficult feat for whenever they gathered they simply listened, and they listened, like always. And it was in that moment they realised: the ‘when’ and ‘how’ had been determined, but ‘why?’ Why had he to die? Like the strangers tales, it was felt, not understood, and now when they heard his words once more speak of pleasant things, their determination wavered. Why must he die? A man who made their hearts stir so? The only thing they knew was that he must. And so, as they were creatures of emotions, they struck the moment the wolf howled, breaking them from the strangers spell.
The one nearest stabbed the stranger on the side with a long nail hidden in his coat. The one on the left, furthest away, threw acid on him and the one to the right simply stayed his hand, for he was last and he saw that there was no one there. And more horrifyingly, it was not air that they smote, but themselves. Dumbfounded they looked, blood trickling from their sides, their ugly faces melting away until they were no more but one, one remaining horrified and frozen. For a full day, he waited, until there was night again, and the stranger emerged from the shadows. The stranger spoke as nothing had happened, and the creature listened and was lost in the magic that was his words.
© Christopher Stamfors
The man in front of him was the nervous sort. The sort of man that had seen things – still saw them. Someone who didn’t want to believe what they saw, for nobody else did. It wasn’t the first time Arnte had interviewed such people, in fact, he’d built a reputation on them. He didn’t really care if they told the truth because they always had good stories for him to use. He eyed the young man who looked like any other peasant boy; strong built with a bowl cut, only, his mannerism didn’t match his appearance. The young man looked nervously from side to side, his shoulders timidly raised over his ears and sipping sparsely on his beer, even though it was provided for him. Arnte licked his lips and brought out his notebook and said. “So, Herr Frans. I’m ready when you are.”
Frans gave him a quick glance then jerked his head to the right, then to the left. Arnte noticed that Frans body was never fully still, as if he was constantly shuddering. Arnte was getting impatient and he cleared his throat. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d like to remind you that you requested this interview. You’re wasting both our time.”
Frans suddenly heaved the contents of his drink in one great gulp and placed the mug back on the table. Arnte noticed that Frans stopped shuddering. Arnte sighed and gesture the waiter for another beer. If I’d help him talk… He thought.
Frans touched the mug and drew his finger around the edges and then lick his finger, as if to test if it was poisoned. Then said. “They are in the walls, you know, under the floorboard and even in our pockets if they want to.”
Arnte noted it down. “Who are they, exactly?”
Frans snorted. “I envy your ignorance. They might have left the consciousness for most of you, but they are still around, even if you don’t see them.”
Arnte raised an eyebrow. He was well spoken despite looking like a peasant. He noted that down too. “Can you tell me what they look like?”
Frans took another greedy gulp of the beer and his shoulders slowly slumped back below his ears. “Unfortunately, it would be pointless to describe them since they have no form. They appear differently from person to person, they change shape, and even then, they don’t like to be seen.”
“Have you ever seen one?”
Frans glowered at him. “I see one right now. In the crack on the wall there. Ah! too late, it’s gone.”
Arnte crinkled his lips. This was a mistake, he thought, and reached for the tab when Frans stopped him. “Look, you can’t see them unless they allow themselves to be seen.”
Arnte leaned back against his chair. “What makes you so special, then?”
Frans eyed his empty glass and Arnte called for the waiter, reluctantly.
Frans licked his lips. “Special is not the word that I would use. They keep me reminded that they are always watching… Where I come from, they are normal. It’s a place where few outsiders visit, or leave for that matter… You remember the tales of elves and trolls from your childhood, surely your parents must have told them to you?”
“Well, my village, is where it all began, the origin of these creatures in our world. It is where they like to be, nowadays, now that men are everywhere. Even on the tallest mountains and the deepest forests they cannot be alone, which is what they want in the end… Alone I mean.”
Arnte wasn’t sure what to make of all of this but was intrigued. “Then why did you leave?”
“Look, there are some nice creatures, I’ll admit. And I suppose I could’ve gotten used to the terrors at night once in a while; things disappearing and having to be extra polite to a certain stub near my house; however, I could never get used to the whispers. That was the worst of it. I never understood how the others managed. Perhaps I was just weak like that, perhaps their zealously towards her shields them somehow. Yet, I cannot put my faith in her. I know what she is. How the others didn’t run away with me is a mystery.”
“Where is this place, exactly? What is it called?”
Frans eyes grew wider. “What would you do if I told you?”
“To verify your story, of course.”
Frans started laughing and rose from his seat. “How can you do that if you haven’t even listened to a single word I’ve said?” He finished his beer. “Thanks for the drinks,” he said and walked away.
Arnte scratched his nose and looked as he walked away. He read his notes again and crossed them over with his pen. A bust then… he thought. He paid for the drinks and was about to leave when he turned and peered at the crack in the wall which Frans had alluded before. There was nothing in it and he sighed and looked down at his notes again. His eyes flashed as images popped into his mind and he began to furiously write down his thoughts. It was almost morning before he finally put down his pen.
They had appeared to him.
© Christopher Stamfors