Behind The Story
Last spring, just before Story-A-Day in May, I was compiling a list of story ideas, trying to get at least 30 of them so I’d hopefully have something to start from each day. One of them was an obnoxiously-long and specific title with the accompanying prompt, “An android plays his heart out in the dying minutes of the solar system.”
Despite being incredibly specific in the title, the nudge here was just too vague for me to use in the hectic chaos that is Story-A-Day. So I skipped that prompt altogether.
Then, earlier this year, I was going through that list of story ideas, seeing if there were any I didn’t get to that might be worth exploring further. The prompt for this story didn’t immediately spark a rush to write, but it did cause me to research dying stars. I learned that as they prepare to nova, they get heavier. Somehow I’d always associated endings and death with a lightness, like dissipating. But the idea of something just sort of collapsing under its own weight was poetic to me. It prompted the bit near the end that’s really my favorite passage in the story:
The soul is another kind of star. When it starts running out of juice, it gets heavier. I guess that’s why I’m out here tonight. We’re twin stars. Both of us getting ready to nova.
I didn’t initially intend for it to be a flash piece, but the vagueness of the prompt didn’t leave me with a lot of room for external conflict and plot development without expanding pretty massively on the simple hint I left myself. Around the same time I was watching Dino Laserbeam’s Freeze Frame Fiction with interest—it’s really an amazing publication—and I decided I wanted something I could submit to him. So I worked to keep this under the word count guidelines and FFF was the first (and only, it turns out) place I submitted this story to.
I’m so glad he decided to publish it and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the utterly astounding artwork commissioned to run alongside it by Luke Spooner. I had artwork created for another one of my stories (Exceptional-Man in Buffalo Alamanack), which I thought was really cool. There’s something about the creativity-spawning-creativity aspect of art that I can’t get enough of. What’s really special about Luke’s piece though is that it happens to appeal to my own aesthetic taste. This is something I would happily buy and put up on the wall in my house even if it had nothing to do with a story I’d written. A trumpet-playing robot is just cool on top of cool, and the jazzy vibe of the art tells a story all by itself.