Towards the end of 2016 I started writing a horror short story. I got to about 2,500 words and while I liked some of what I got down on paper, the story wasn’t going anywhere. I decided to keep a couple of scenes and take it in a new direction, and I wrote a few new paragraphs.
At least that’s what I thought I did.
The draft story got put aside while I worked on another short story that had been commissioned for an anthology. That story took up most of my writing time over the Christmas break and throughout January and early February. I’d forgotten about the short story I’d abandoned until I went into my writing files last week.
Oh yeah, I thought. I should take another look at this.
I opened up the document and read through the first page, the second, the third. Every time I finished a page of writing another appeared even though I didn’t expect it to. Turns out I hadn’t written just a few paragraphs. I’d actually written 3/4 of a brand new story. The weird thing is, I don’t remember writing it. Not at all.
It’s true that almost every time before I sit down to write I call upon the writing geniuses to help me. (If you don’t know about the writing geniuses, you really should check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk and/or buy her book Big Magic.) I have come to rely on these invisible spirits that put words in my head that I translate onto paper. And I have had the experience before, many times, when I’ve read back over my work and wondered, did I really write that? But this is the first time that I completely forgot I’d written a story.
The good news is, I really like it and think it has potential. The not so good news is that I’d left off without writing an ending. The geniuses are helping me with that now. Still it was an odd sensation – as well as a little exciting – to read through the document and have the story reveal itself paragraph by paragraph. As each page ended I’d ask myself, is there more? I hope there’s more!
One day, when it eventually gets published, I hope readers will have that same reaction to this story: getting to the end of a sentence or paragraph and wanting to hurry on to the next to find out the answer to ‘and then what happened?’
I’d love to know if anyone else has ever had the same experience of writing a story, forgetting about it, and then being pleasantly surprised. Maybe it happens to other writers all the time, and I’m the odd one out!