Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quick Thoughts - The Something of "Nothing"

Hey, my story, "Nothing," is out at Betwixt right now. Maybe go check that out. Then, perhaps, come back to get a bit more about the story.

Okay, so "Nothing." I think this is one of the very, very few stories that started with an idea for an ending where I kept the ending in more or less as I imagined it going. That idea of the main character, exhausted, frayed, saying that last line was in my head for most of when I was writing and, for once, seemed to work when I got to it. The story was something an experimentation in voice, trying for a more..."punk" feel, I guess, and also I wanted to play with the idea of nothing. Nothing to mean, of course, something. Which is something that I find rather interesting. That nothing, as a concept, is something like an absence, but that absence is in itself a something. So in some ways there are no nothings. In other ways, yes of course there are nothings. Because when we define what "something" is, what is left out is relegated to that state of nothingness. And this is perhaps getting a little confusing.

Part of what I wanted to do with the story was to write the main character as something of an absence, or at least as someone who, in the society they live in, is unseen. Non. There's a lot of information about them but also a lot missing. They grew up rough and their mother and probably whatever other family they had is dead. They're a bit cocky but that serves them. They exist, and yet they are largely invisible. They use that from time to time, but it's an obvious sign that the city is not exactly working for the majority of its inhabitants. It's a place where violence from police is normalized, where people can't really argue about it out of fear, out of powerlessness. Most of the people in the city, or at least the lowlies, are hanging on by a hair, are, in effect, nothing. There are some perks, if the merest of human dignities like Mercy can be considered perks, but they are forced on the city from outside and very much resented.

I will be honest and say that there is the part of me that sees this story as something of a tale of futility. There was a part of me asking why white suit was running only one con, and such a simple one, but I hoped to wave that away by thinking that he'd be limited to one at a time, in order to be adapt in case something went wrong (as it did here). And there is a part of me that wonders if he still won't just use the same ruse a second time, targeting Mercy again. There really is no answer to that other than things might have changed very quickly with the police got hit by the weapon. Politics being politics, maybe they'd think about trying again with something that just blew up in their face. Not to say they won't try something, but there is that hope, perhaps, that the attack on the station was just the start of something, a spark that would light something more widespread. I'd almost be interesting to return to Non at some point, which is strange for stories that I don't really start out thinking will be part of a series. But as none of my series stories have been bought, maybe I just need to make a series out of a standalone. Hmm…

Anyway, the story is also more science fictional than I normally go, a sort of punk dystopia story which I know are fairly common but that I was drawn to here. Obviously the time and place are nebulous. Who knows if this is Earth or not, the future or not, and there's a bit of a closed-in feeling to it, the idea that Non has never see the sky, that things don't sound all that good anywhere but that the best things are obviously organized with the rich at the top. And I don't know, it was a story that I felt worked all right around that idea of nothingness. At least I hope it does. Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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