Short Stories–What Have I Learned?

Upon Reflection.... (Photo © F. P. Dorchak and Jan C J Jones, 2016)

Upon Reflection…. (Photo © F. P. Dorchak and Jan C J Jones, 2016)

After spending the past year going back over all my short stories, what have I learned?

I’ve learned I was a young testosteroned-fueled writer, writing about sex and violence and all-things-weird. There are definitely some things that are going to remain hidden, but those I’ve released and will release 2017 in my short story collection are the best of my efforts.

I’ve learned that all is not all as it seems.

That the veil between our present and the past (and for that matter, the future…) is far thinner than many realize. Well, I already knew this, but as I ventured back and relived my stories—hell, my life—though I may not have remembered writing some of these things, wow, I was instantly transported to and reliving my twenty-something, thirty-something selves! My teenager self! It was weird. In a very real way…my stories are a reflection of my life. Who I was…what I wrote about. How I wrote. How I felt. It’s like I remembered everything, and was as easy as sliding on a well-worn, “experienced” glove.

Isn’t aging fascinating?

There are different perspectives to the decades of our lives. If you’re in your twenties and thirties, wait until you hit your fifties. If you’re in your forties and fifties, wait until you hit your seventies and eighties. Perhaps “wait” is a bad term to use…do not “wait” for anything—live. Live your life to its fullest. And that doesn’t mean becoming an extreme sportster, never sleeping, or being impatient with people and things. It just means being the best person you can be and being in the moment. Discover and understand who you are…and be true to that. Internalize it. Then do what you’re made to do. Discover and explore your hidden little talents…do you secretly like to dance? Do photography? Visit with the elderly? If so, then be that person. Be fully aware of your present moment.

Perhaps others have other derogatory terms for aging, but I do find “the process” fascinating. The shell of our body shows age first…but the soft, chewy center also shows changes—if you admit to it. I don’t believe it’s so much about “staying young at heart,” as it is to be who you are…and you should change as you age. You should wisen…but also keep your sense of wonder, your sense of adventure about you! Retain your elements of joy and fun! It should not just be six and twenty-year-olds who remain physically and imaginatively active and alive! If you’re “not like that,” then try to develop a sense of adventure and curiosity, if you have any interest in doing so at all. But to place so much importance on youth…of being a person you were in the pastis assigning all the power of who you are to the past and dismissing who you are in the present.

If we were meant to be twenty forever we would forever be twenty.

And, no, I would not want to do it all over again. I had a fun and exiting journey…a truly wonderful life…but I am ready to move into my present’s future. To find new adventures, new perspectives. Though elements of that Past Me remain, I am not that me any longer…and some of those short stories (two immediately come to mind) are actually kinda hard to read because of the events that inspired them. But most…most were wonderful with which to reacquaint myself!

I learned (perhaps “re-experienced” is a better term) that I’d taken chances writing my stories. I learned that just because someone tells you to “Do these 12 steps to get published!” does not mean you will get published. That just because you do anything will get you more of anything. It’s a little trickier and fickle-r than that…and metaphysical….

I learned that I am not above incorporating “awkward topics” (e.g., sex) into my work for the proper telling of a good story. Or a little violence…if it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t like writing about violence, especially for extended periods of time, which was why I left writing straight-horror (I call my current work “paranormal fiction”). But all good stories involve elements of conflict…some romantic and emotional…some physical and violent. I’ve written in both arenas.

I have to be true to the stories I decide to write.

A corollary to this is that I am not my stories or their characters. I have a vivid imagination. Period. I read, I observe, I learn. I try to portray things as realistically as possible, so that readers can walk away and think, “Yeah, that really could happen!” If I am compelled enough to write something up, I sometimes have to go places I don’t like to go. Just like all of us out there in our daily lives and jobs sometimes you have to do things we don’t particularly like doing.

And you just can’t please everybody.

I learned that I had not read all my short stories out loud, which I learned later in my writing career to do. It could have saved me some embarrassingly obvious issues! #OMG

I learned (it was actually pointed out to me by Mandy, my copy editor) that I use car wrecks a lot in my stories to off characters. Huh. No shit. I really do? Never realized that!

I also learned that in my short stories I used the name “Phil” a lot. It was a placeholder for a name. “Philip” is my middle name. Not an ego thing, it just kept me from having to “think hard” for character names at the moment.

So, my retro/introspective complete, I’m moving forward! I have new work I’ve started, new stories to tell…and I do have to get this short story collection out there (which will have some brand new stories in it, like “A Beautiful Summer’s Afternoon,” a new story I’m currently working)….

Thank you all for your support, and have an outstanding “Holiday Season”!

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

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About fpdorchak

Speculative and paranormal fiction author. Please check out my website: Thank you for stopping by!
This entry was posted in Fun, Leisure, Short Story, Spooky, To Be Human, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Short Stories–What Have I Learned?

  1. Karen Lin says:

    It’s been a fun trip, Frank Phillip Dorchak.

  2. Marc Schuster says:

    Great advice throughout this post — especially your point about keeping your sense of wonder! (I hope my soft, chewy center always manages to do this!)

  3. Wendy Brydge says:

    Stay true to yourself while remaining flexible enough to learn and grow. Sometimes in life you change, and sometimes you adapt. But the important thing is that you always keep going. Never stop doing what you do. Kudos to you, Frank, for undertaking such a daunting (but obviously rewarding) adventure this past year with your short stories. Merry Christmas!

    • fpdorchak says:

      Thank you so much, Wendy! And thank you for being a part of it, too! I can’t believe it’s been a YEAR already! Dang, how Time *loves* messing with us! And a very merry Christmas to you, aussi!

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