The Ship of Silk on the Calmest Sea
Well, I was going to blog about something completely different today, but then last night just as I was going to bed I noticed that this story is already up at Reflection's Edge: "The Ship of Silk on the Calmest Sea." I usually pay a lot of attention to the rhythm and flow of language as I write, but this is definitely the one I had most fun with in that sense, piling on the alliteration and such that it borders on purple prose. I don't think it crosses that line--for all the rejections this story received at professional and semi-professional mags, not one said that it was for being too flowery.
I like hearing from writers about the genesis of stories, so I'll share that for this one. It came from a writing prompt and story challenge that involved a series of story elements for each of us writers to incorporate into one story. Among those was the word boat. I was writing down the different words, and when I got to boat, I simply kept writing, "boat of cloth on the calmest sea." I don't know where the phrase came from, but I liked the rhythm of it. My first reaction was that it made no sense--no matter how calm the sea, a boat of cloth wouldn't work (though I learned as camp historian that the first canoes at Camp Roger were made of canvas that had to be coated in some thick paint/sealant every year). But then I thought, well let's assume that it did make sense--how would the story happen? And then I began to write.
This is, incidently, the first thing I wrote related to my current novel in progress. The subtitle of the story is "A Fable of the Forgotten South." At the time I knew little of the story, though I had this vague idea of writing something in an isolated northern valley warmed by volcanic hot springs where the people lived in exile from their original southern homeland. There's little other direct connection between this story and that apart from the idea in my head that this is a story they might tell in their exile. But it was because of this that I decided to make the silk weavers of that society among the highest caste...which has become a very important part of the story.
Anyway, go check it out!