In 2011 I wrote a short story that I personally consider to be one of my best. It’s a piece that I wrote in one sitting; it was a moment, you could say, of pure creation. I had this urge to write a story like that, I sat down, fired up WriteRoom on my old MacBook, and blasted out a tale about three astronauts living on Mars, and the amazing discovery they make.
It’s a story that grew me in a few ways: it was written in first person (I’ve avoided this style for a while prior to the story – and subsequently), and it was one of my first science fiction stories.
Now, I don’t often like to talk about my work. But I thought my experiences with this particular story might be of interest to fellow writers out there.
A few months after writing Red Phantom, I decided to write a sequel. I thought that the world of these three astronauts, and the discovery, was interesting. I thought I’d be able to continue it. I even ended up writing a sequel. But here’s the thing: I failed, miserably. The sequel was, unlike the original, anticipated. There was no spark that made me want to write it; I was following a path, not forging a new one.
That’s why I haven’t (as yet) published a continuation of that story. I probably will give it another attempt at some later time, but right now it’s difficult to capture the essence of that story for me, personally, like I felt I was able to with Red Phantom.
Through this experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes it’s best to leave a piece as-is. Don’t tamper with it if you can’t best the original attempt. Writing sequels has always been a challenge. The “second film” scenario has challenged many a writer. When faced with such a situation, rather focus on creating new things, finding new sparks to ignite.
Incidentally, I haven’t written many more short stories since “The Walker“, which I published here after Red Phantom. Sorry for that; I have been busy with other projects. I hope to write more flash fiction/short stories in 2013 – look out for them!