Write weird: In praise of peculiar pieces

Back in the day, before I was ever accepted into a university writing program, before I ever thought much about what I was writing and why, I wrote a lot of short, weird fiction.

I wouldn’t say that my time in a university writing program blunted my weirdness, exactly, but since most of my peers would read my stories and write comments in the margins like “What does this mean?” or “???????”, I did feel a certain pressure to tame my characters’ oddities and put them into more recognizable circumstances.

Let your freak flag fly, Seabury Quinn!

But I never really liked the stories I wrote that fit into someone else’s mold of normalcy. I felt they were perhaps well-crafted, but lacking in soul. There was no fire, no funk, no zip, no spunk! What, then, was the point of writing them at all?

To get the grade. To please the professor. To achieve publication. To prove that I could do it.

But now that I’ve been published many times by real publications, and have clearly proven that I can write “normal” stories, I think it’s time to take a stand for my own weird fiction once more. If a reader must exclaim “?????” after reading one of my pieces, GOOD. Because sometimes, that is the goal.

You didn’t get it? READ IT AGAIN.

You still didn’t get it? GOOD. Go away and think it over. Try to process a little oddity now and then. It’s good for you.

In the end, I feel a need to create things that don’t always make sense, that do not mirror any reality, and that may make people feel uncomfortable. It’s fiction, people. Why should I imitate the most bland and banal bits of everyday life?

Or, as my husband likes to say when I help him type up a blog post:

Don’t unquirk my quirk!

Therefore, I have decided that the month of May will be devoted to writing more short, weird fiction, and trying to find all of those stories some equally weird homes. I feel vindicated, too, because I just received an anthology acceptance for a weird short story I wrote called “How to Travel Backwards in Time Without Getting Yourself Killed.” Score!

I’m participating in the Story A Day Challenge, and hope some of you will be playing along as well. What kinds of stories do you most enjoy writing, and have you ever felt the need to “unquirk” your quirkiness on the page?