Back when I worked nights, I’d often come up with writing exercise ideas to keep myself entertained and my literary muscles flexed. Most of them were the oft-mentioned “1000 Word” exercises, where I picked a topic and rambled for a thousand words, hoping to make a complete piece of flash out of whatever I managed to type up. Some were successful, some not so much.
Occasionally, I’d ask other people for ideas instead of aggregating my own poor, sleep deprived brain for content. Sometimes I suffer bouts of creative deficiency, when everything I manage to think up sounds lame as hell or it’s already been done to death. On one of these evenings, I told Eric to give me an idea and he wound up asking me to write him a piece of detective fiction. He was in the middle of a course on detective fiction at the University of Pittsburgh, and so he was interested in seeing if I could write something similar.
I have no experience with detective fiction. None. I like Japanese “women’s crime fiction” (Kirino, Miyabe, Nonami, et al), but I’ve never been into the fedora-wearing private dick type thing. I know there’s a trove of great fiction hiding in the genre, and I fully intend to get around to reading it someday, but I haven’t yet.
What resulted in this request was a short piece called “In My Office,” which, while being nothing like any detective fiction I’ve heard of (in my very limited experience), is about as close as I think I’ll ever come to writing the “sitting in the dismal office smoking and waiting for a mystery” cliche story. It was fun, though I’m not sure just how good I am at it.
Anyway, it’s making an appearance in Freehand, a literary zine run by a woman I know from a message board I’ve been frequenting. There’s a website and a print version, which looks so close to the zines I used to read in the 90s that the nostalgia almost gives me vertigo. Cool. Very cool.
Read it, comment on it, let me know what you think. I had fun writing it, and I hope you have fun reading it. My only regret is that I didn't get to use the phrase "I was sweating bullets."