One of the surprisingly interesting things about maintaining a blog are the insights you get into what all of those “anonymous” people on the Internet are doing. Blogger, for example, gives you some basic statistics on who’s viewing your blog: what country they’re in, what language they speak, and what browser and operating system they’re using. The data that’s available from Google Analytics – which I’ve just signed up for – is even more detailed; you can see, for example, not just the countries where your readers reside, but down to the very cities in which they live. On top of that, you can apparently get stats like how long someone spends on a page, how many pages they view per visit, and so on. It’s a bit nosy, really. But somehow I doubt that anyone in South Korea will care if I know the name of their hometown. In any case, I’m looking forward to getting more information on who my readers are and how they found me.
My flash fiction romance “The Sublet” has been published in Romance Flash:
This story is actually a modified excerpt from my forthcoming novel My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged. They say that publishing excerpts from your novels is good strategy, and maybe it is. But don’t kid yourself into thinking it saves time because you’re recycling something you’ve already written. If anything, it takes longer than writing a story from scratch. First, you have to build a frame story around a segment that was intended to be a much longer work. Second, you have to make it self-contained, which means adding and getting rid of stuff that no longer fits in the revised version. And finally, you have to adjust the length to make it work for the market for which you’re shooting, and in the case of flash fiction, this can be daunting indeed.
I like the frame story I chose here, which is completely unrelated to the plot of my book. The idea that people are no longer forced to stay in a particular place for work and are thus free to move around as much as they like intrigued me. Perhaps I get that from my days as a professional eBay seller, when I routinely traveled several months of the year and worked on the road. In the modern world the scenario is perfectly plausible, and for people without roots or strings tying them down to one location, the thought of simply packing your suitcase and moving on whenever you felt like it might have some appeal. On the other hand, it would definitely interfere with your love life. Suddenly, instead of just hanging out to see what happens with your new relationship, you have to consciously decide – do you stay or move on when your time’s supposed to be up?
Fortunately, this particular section of my book didn’t require a tremendous effort in order to make it self-contained, which is one of the reasons I chose it. Except for at the beginning, there weren’t a lot of references to events that happened earlier, and those were fairly simple to excise. Trying to get the word count down to under a thousand was awful, though. I started out with seventeen hundred, and after I’d whittled it down as much as I thought I possibly could, I still had twelve hundred words. After I took out the final two hundred, I was afraid the story didn’t make sense as a story anymore, so I set it aside for a while so I could read it with fresh eyes. I guess it must have worked, though, because the good people at Romance Flash decided to publish it. I only hope the readers like it, too!
You can download more FREE excerpts from My Life with Michael from your favorite eBook retailer. Please visit the book’s webpage for more information.
My flash fiction piece “Last Date” has been published in The Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette. (Note: Although the story is not overly explicit, the Gazette contains adult content).
There’s actually a lot going on in this little piece. I didn’t even realize it myself until I re-read it just now, a few months after writing it. I thought it was mostly about love and aging; that is, how aging alters our experience of love, which is a theme on which I’ve focused a great deal in my recent work. And it is about that, of course, but what really strikes me now is that, in a very big way, it’s also about loss. The lost love. The lost chance. The loss of libido. The loss of youth.
I can only conclude that I must have been very sad when I wrote this piece. That some small part of me must still wonder, must still be dwelling on what might have been; not just in love, but in life itself. Perhaps it’s like that for all of us as we grow older. Perhaps we all reach a point at which we realize that certain paths are no longer open to us, or at least that they’re now packed with obstacles that simply didn’t exist in our youth.
I think that’s why I started writing again after such a lengthy hiatus. Because in my stories and novels I can explore any path I choose; even those which, for whatever reason, are no longer open to me. I can live the life that, in reality, I chose not to live; take the chances I didn’t take; recapture the opportunities I failed to grasp. And it comforts me sometimes to arrive at the end of that imaginary road-not-taken and conclude that I didn’t miss much after all. That I didn’t have to give up what I have in order to pursue some shadow of a dream that would never pan out in the real world, anyway; that the real charm of the fantasy lies in its very unreality.
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“Last Date” is one of the stories featured in my collection Romance Shorts: Love Stories by Lori Schafer, FREE in digital formats for a limited time on Amazon (Universal Link) , ITunes , Barnes and Noble , Kobo , Smashwords and Lulu . For more information, please visit the book’s webpage or subscribe to my newsletter.