Looking Back

Since it’s a fifth week, but we already did a contest this month, we’ve got something different for you today! We decided, in honor of shifting Merry Fates over to wordpress, to look back at the very first stories we posted… way back in May of 2008. In the three years since then we’ve each posted something near 100 short stories (!!!) and have learned SO MUCH. Not just about communicating with the internet and entertaining you, o readers, but about ourselves as writers.

Below, find links to our first stories, and a brief paragraph from each of us about what we think we’ve learned! Next week the schedule resumes as normal, with fiction every Monday!

Brenna’s first: Alternative Hypothesis

The first story I wrote for Merry Fates wasn’t actually a storyβ€”I just didn’t know that at the time. I was very conscious of rhythm and enjoyed the business of carefully placing one word after another, but I really had no way of distinguishing between stories and vignettes. Things my first story lacks that most stories have: Characters. Setting. Plot. Things it has in massive quantities: Voice. The thing I’ve learned since starting in 2008: Voice is a nice tool to have, but only once you can brush it on like lacquer over all those other pieces.

Tessa’s first: Beast

My most pointed reaction to rereading this first story is amusement that it’s proof I’ve used Merry Fates as a place to experiment from the very beginning. I think I’ve learned how to turn my experiments into an actual story, with beginning, middle, end, character arcs, and world, but I can still see what I was trying to do back then: play with form, and tell a story by answering a single question over and over again. It’s still so very me when it comes to language, though, and fairy tale tropes. The more things change…

Maggie’s first: Holes

I remember very clearly that this first story took me an entire week to consider. An entire week of thinking of one slight story. Back then, I still think building instant characters was my strong point, but that was literally all I knew how to do. I picked a fairy tale retelling because I couldn’t imagine how to create both new people and a new world in just one week’s time. What have a learned since May of 2008? How to build worlds in the time it takes to make a pot of rice.

What do YOU think about our first stories? Think we all still sound like ourselves? I hope you’ll agree that we’ve just gotten better. It was part of the original goal of Merry Fates, after all – to improve!

photo credit: Natalie C Parker, 2010 The Merry Fates at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery, New Orleans

13 thoughts on “Looking Back

  1. My. My.
    I haven’t read any of the three before, so this was… It was surprising. At the core, all the stories are very YOU. Holes is perfectly Maggie, Beast could only be Tessa and no one else and Alternate Hypothesis is just what I expect from Brenna.
    You’ve all changed, of course, gotten better.
    Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to understand Holes until the very end (because I knew, knew being the word I used, nothing about The 12 Dancing Princesses except what was in the Barbie movie until I googled it).
    Though, most Maggie’s stories tend to be that way, only me?
    And I had to re-read Beast because I was thinking of Rip Van Winkle. =/ Why is there no picture for that one, though?
    I understood Alternate Hypothesis best, though. The voice was almost cold and scientific. Because it was only for their good.
    On the whole, while the stories are good they lack something. You’ve all improved a lot since.

    I talk too much. It reflects.

    • Hey, Juice! We didn’t start regularly putting pictures into the stories until months and months into the blog, so it was very scattershot before then.

      I agree with you totally about the development – and the patterns you see. With my story, I totally agree that it’s got potential, but isn’t really *there* when it comes to success. Or being good. Or, like, anything I want to have on the internet forever. Ha ha.

  2. This is so helpful and encouraging. You have no idea.

    It feels as if your tastes have shifted since writing these. There’s something romantically morbid about all three of these stories. The emphasis on atmosphere and language might contribute to that. Tessa’s especially. It almost reads like slam poetry. I feel that your current work tends to be more playful, more wistful and often more ironic.

    • I’m glad, Jennifer! I find them encouraging, too, bc it feels like I’ve improved not just a little bit, but a LOT in these three years. So how freaking awesome will I be in three more years?!? πŸ˜‰

      I love the slam poetry ref. ❀ ❀ ❀ and I like that you see me as shifting toward the wistful and ironic. I certainly hope that's the case. Thanks!

  3. Love that you’re bringing out these older stories. I hadn’t read these before. πŸ™‚ And I love reading your comments to each other – this one by Brenna made me smile: “What can I say–I’m all about dying things. But in a nice way.” Yes, you’ve all improved after 3 years and hundreds of stories, but I’m glad you haven’t changed!

    • Hahahah yes – that’s one of our favorite parts, too. Reading how we used to talk to each other. It’s funny, too, because we don’t always comment on each other’s stories anymore. It used to be a priority. I think we stopped as we all got more confident about it.

  4. I definitely think that you have all improved, but there was something worthwhile there to begin with. The stories are bewitching and make the reader want to read more from you fabulous authors.

    Reminds me, I have more books to purchase… πŸ˜‰

  5. Loved going back to the beginning and reading how things started, though I had had some prior exposure via the copy of the Merry Fates anthology resting on my bookshelf….

    Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

      • Yep, that “old” anthology. πŸ™‚ Among the other things we took with us, I had Maggie sign that when I met her in July. Now I need to track down you and Brenna and complete its signatory glory. Can’t wait until the new anthology comes out!

  6. Oh gosh, I feel like an oldtimer…I distinctly remember reading all of these when you guys decided to START Merry Sisters of Fates!! I was stressing about my final exams in my sophomore year of college at the time and was looking forward to a site with new stories. I even remember entering the Halloween contest! πŸ™‚

    It’s so cool just to see how you all evolved and grew, but imo, all the stories are great in their own ways πŸ™‚ So many have stuck with me even after all this time– the story Brenna wrote about the creepy guy in the snow, for instance, that had a sort of Stephen King vibe, and another one– I can’t remember who wrote it, unfortunately, perhaps Tessa?– about trickster faeries at an apartment party where the wine turned into leaves and mud.

    One of the things I’ve liked most about the site is that it’s like a little time capsule of careers– Tessa/Brenna hadn’t had novels published yet (iirc), and Maggie had just finished up Lament the year before.

    • Haha, it makes me feel like an old timer, too! πŸ˜€ I’m so glad we could help you out with your exams. The time capsule effect is one of the things we were hoping for 3 years ago!

      Wow your memory is great – I remember those stories, too.

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