Going Postal: The Writing Process and How It Messed Itself Up

Back when the world shut down in an effort to curb the spread of a certain virus, I found my creativity stunted. I felt afraid, defensive, worried, uncertain.

Like many others in the blogosphere, I did not feel like writing.

The idea for expressing some of my anxieties through a serial story came a few weeks later, as I (once again) chased down the funny, reserved, down-to-earth, white-haired and blue-eyed man who delivered the mail to our area. My mail man is not named Ron, but his appearance and manners are based on the one I know and have known for a few years.

Originally, my story idea revolved around the mail carrier knowing what everyone had shipped to his house and …going postal on everyone and stealing their stuff. Somewhere around the second or third installment, I wrote each segment from that new character’s perspective. At another point I don’t remember, I decided the different stories would follow a triangle pattern: the last would be from the same perspective and in the same location as the first, the second would match the second-to-last, etc.

Two problems arose: One, I didn’t know where to …end; where to arc and come back down. Two, everyone (including me) got attached to Ron.

How could I make Ron go ‘breaking bad?’

First, I thought to make him accidentally infect everyone. He did, in fact, do that. He coughed all over the postal sorting room, after all. Then, in walked Marty. Personally, I like Marty. I also do not like Marty. He’s a scumbag. Thanks to Marty and a later idea that Carol wouldn’t make it, we had our key to breaking Ron.

Thanks to recent developments in America, I had more danger to add…

So, Going Postal is the story of a happy, friendly mailman who was eventually convinced to aid Marty in his exploits -or, it’s possible that Marty knocked him off and is using Ron’s pickup truck and route to rob and plunder in The End of Times. You get to decide.

A final Easter Egg: I decided to never name Coronavirus in the stories.

Going Postal, I
Going Postal, II
Going Postal, III
Going Postal, IV
Going Postal, V
Going Postal, VI
Going Postal, VII
Going Postal, VIII
Going Postal, IX
Going Postal, X
Going Postal, XI
Going Postal, XII
Going Postal, XIII
Going Postal, XIV

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

P.S. In real-life drama, my favorite mailman was recently let go. I’m hoping to call someone who knows something and tell him a final, “Thanks.”

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Carrot Ranch’s Rodeo Competition, #3

Charli over at the Carrot Ranch is hosting their third writing competition! Here’s what she says for the rules and such:

Now it’s time to craft a story!

CRITERIA:

  1. Write a story that has Three Acts (they do not need to be labeled).
  2. The story must have a discernible beginning, middle, and end.
  3. The story must be about someone, set somewhere, and something happens.
  4. The story can be fiction or BOTS (based on a true story).
  5. It can include any tone or mood, and be in any genre, and there is NO PROMPT.
  6. Make the judges remember your story long after reading it.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 23, 2019.
  6. You may submit a “challenge” if you don’t want to enter the contest or if you wrote more than one entry.
  7. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after November 28.
  8. Use the form below the rules to enter [located on her site].

2019 JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to select the top ten blind. Please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog. A live panel of judges from the Keweenaw will select three winners from the top ten stories. The blind judging will be a literary event held at the Roberts Street Writery at Carrot Ranch World Headquarters in Hancock, Michigan. After selections are made, a single Winners Announcement with the top ten in each category will be posted on November 28. All ten stories in each contest will receive a full literary critique, and the top winner in each contest will receive $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).

The Author of a Long Night

The cursor blinked from an empty screen, the only light in a night-draped house. Walls slept; world slept; he, for a moment, slept. She looked over at his backlit-shadowed features; they frowned.

She sighed and could not frown. Or smile. Expressions felt as elusive as the absent story arcs on her page.

I must write something, she thought.

Blink, answered the screen.

Anything?

Blink.

Then; through morning oatmeal mind mush, an idea came. Her fingers poised to type…

He groaned. Sat up. Named her.

She turned to his care.

The cursor sighed, yawned, and went to sleep without her.

Dedicated to Charli, for this week’s prompt at Carrot Ranch.

April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 30, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Me

animal-photography-little-mouse-1010266

Actually, mice have very little to do with it, and not because they are, in actuality, hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings trying to compute The Answer. I simply do not own any mice, nor have the desire to.

The point?

I’ve had a bit of a revelation regarding my serial stories. I began the first, Wilhelmina Winters, years ago on Facebook. The second, Skinwalkers, I began right here on the blog.

Wil was written in the past and is re-posted with editing each week. Nathan enjoys the in-your-face action of whatever comes to mind the midnight of each day I need to post it. His time stamp is often changed in a cheating fashion.

I’ve been writing them assuming that everyone else wanted the same thing I did: to keep reading their stories forever.

However, a few other blogs I follow also run serial stories. As I’m reading theirs, I keep thinking, When is this story going to END? What’s the resolution?

D’oh!

So, sorry about that.

Not sure where to go from here, though, because chopping the stories off where they are would make for a very lopsided balance of story arc. I guess I could just tell everyone the ending the way most readers cheat and look at the last few pages…

I’ll keep ruminating. In the meantime, I’ve got your back. I’ll stop writing The Neverending Story and instead work on tying things up.

I’ve learned some things for next time, too. Like, I’ll either write a serial story like TV episodes, or begin with a plan of only …twenty stories or so.

In the meantime, thanks for the loyal following.