A bunch of us were sitting at the bar at our lodge the other night after I mouthed off about something during the meeting. “You talk almost as much as you write,” one of the guys said. I had to chuckle at that. I spent so many years in radio talking up a storm that it seems to flow with little outside help. As a newsman, writing was something one did if one wanted a paycheck on Friday.
“You don’t have much trouble grabbing a wrench, old son,” I replied, signaling our barman brother for another round. He nodded and the light came on. He was always first to help a brother if his truck broke down or the fridge quit.
“Yup,” he said. “It’s what I do.” We sipped a bit and he continued. “So, what do you like writing the most? For me, I’d rather work on an older car than these new-fangled jobby-dos.”
“News is good to write but sometimes it’s difficult to keep your own opinion to yourself. Novels are very gratifying, particularly when you write ‘the end’ on that last page, but short stories, there you’ve got lots of problems.”
“Why?” A couple of the old boys asked at the same time, and I kind of understood the question. “Seems like a little old short story would be easier to write than a big old long novel,” Pinky said.
“Seems like it,” I said. “But, just ain’t so. With brevity in every part of your mind you tell just the essence of a particular instance in someone’s life or situation when writing a short story, while writing a novel, you tell the entire life and all the situations.”
“You got a favorite short story?” I think it was old man Peebles that asked. I’d autographed three of my novels for him and remembered him saying that he’d never really read many short stories. He said something about they end too soon.
“Actually, I have several that I really enjoyed writing. Two that you can get right now are available on Amazon. Others were published in magazines and would be difficult to find. I really enjoyed writing Miss Minerva’s Sheriff. It was part of an anthology but it is available as a stand alone short story.” I wrote down the Amazon URL for the guys.
“The other one that tickles me came out last year at about this same time in a holiday anthology. You might remember when we took that ride into the mountains to cut Christmas trees for those families that couldn’t afford one for themselves and I read it out loud. Slick’s Special Christmas.”
“You’re always reading something out loud,” Peebles laughed. “I remember that, though. It’s still available?’
“Yup,” I said and wrote down the URL for them.
“You see, guys, telling the story is the most fun I get from all this. That sheriff never knew what hit him when Minerva came to town, but the entire episode had to be told quickly, and long involved details weren’t important to the crux of the matter.
“Same with Slick. He was tore up bad, bleeding, infected, and what happened to him two weeks later wasn’t important. What was important was what was happening at that moment in time. That’s the pleasure and the pain of the short story.”
“Well, just quit talking, now,” old man Peebles said, laughing right out loud. “Drink your beer and we’ll just sit here quietly and think about all this.”
I didn’t say a word, just motioned to our barman brother for another round of cold ones.
Until next time, read good books and stay regular
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