Sunday, December 13, 2009

Series Fiction: A Love Story

Series Fiction: A Love Story
By Christine Taylor

I started a new series today. There I was, minding my own business, when I got invited to a writing party. Sure, I thought. I'll attend, have fun, flirt with some new fiction. Maybe even sci-fi. It's just one short story. I don't need to take any of this further. So I wrote 304 words. Then I glanced across the sea of letters, and saw it.


Blam. It hit me. This one's for keeps.

At first I was excited—I couldn't wait to start. Let's do it now, let's do a series! Forget the preparation for a big novel, we'll just do stories. Later we can renew the vows with an anthology.

But I knew that feeling. I'd been in love with a story before, only to have the ardor fade after a few weeks or months. I looked at the draft notes on my page and wondered: Can I do this? Can I stay with this series...for as long as its ideas live?

Romancing the words

It's easy to fall in love for one story. Especially a short story. You don't have time to run into a lot of trouble. Everything's new and fresh and scintillating. It could go anywhere—become anything! You linger over every character interaction with boldness and daring, pushing yourself beyond your safe space, your reserve, because you're caught up in wild abandon. No one will judge your whole life from one story. You're free to try something new, spread your wings.

But a series is different. It's a commitment, like a life-long relationship. It means going beyond the enchantment and excitement of newness. It's saying you'll stick around when the fresh, new ideas become familiar and predictable. You'll sit down with it every day, even when it gets cranky and argumentative. Even when you get cranky and argumentative. You won't turn your back on it when attractive adjectives are washed away and the blemished structure is revealed.

You'll stay, for better or worse.

True love conquers all

As time goes on, you'll work at the relationship. You'll grow to love the familiar, and challenge yourself to invent ways to spark new excitement. You'll take it to new locations, and revisit the places you first fell in love. You'll get to the point where you can't wait to see it in the morning, can't wait to discover what it will surprise you with that day. You'll run with it, year after year, growing in harmony. You'll start to fear the possibility that the run will end; then you'll chase the fear away and exult in every moment you get to spend together. Because this word, this setting, this moment, will never come again.

It's a commitment...and a joy. It makes you better. Makes you grow.

So you'll be ready when the next commitment comes.

"Honey, we're expecting a spin-off!"

Christine Taylor (aka mousewords) is a California writer, artist, and social media consultant. She and her sister Stacy survived carbon monoxide poisoning, an experience which inspired them to create the "Barrister Mystery" series of novels, short stories, and spin-offs. Christine Twitters at Click here and blogs at Click here, where she rarely writes about herself in the third person.

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