Today we’re going to look at the second novella in the collection, a little ditty entitled “Object Permanence.” Today’s digression contains a lesson, and that lesson is never throw anything out. If you’re a writer, that is. Otherwise, not throwing things out leads to hoarder tendencies, and no one needs that shit.
Anyway, don’t throw things you’ve written away. Ever. Everything you’ve written–every stunted short story, every poem, every piece of a novel, every idea, every line, every observation–should be kept somewhere. Why? Because you never know when it will come in handy. You never know when you’re going to need to crib from yourself. You never know when that one scene you write back in 1989 will come in handy to plug some hole in a novel you’re writing now. Because it happens, dear ones. Oh, it happens.
“Object Permanence” is a case in point. I wrote the story–really two stories, we’ll get to that in a moment–long, long ago. Back in the early 1990s; so long ago that I think I was actually writing on an Apple Powerbook 100, one of the very first laptops. Anyway, I wrote the first part of the novella as an entirely standalone short piece, whose title escapes me. Then I wrote the second, longer part of the novella as a second separate piece. But somehow, I realized that the two pieces fit together. The first part seemed to be some backstory for the main character of the second part. So, I grafted them together and made something that exceeded 15,000 words.
Exceeding 15,000 words is one of those things writers tend to avoid. Exceeding 15,000 words–OK, exceeding 5,000 words, really–puts you into the arid no-man’s land of a greatly too long short story or gasp! a novella. And if you think selling a short story is difficult (and it kinda is), selling a novella is like selling birth control at the Vatican. So, I wrote the piece, polished it up…and then it sat in a computer file for about 20 years.
When the munificent R.J. Cavender asked for some of my longer works as a prelude to putting together what would become The End in All Beginnings, I dug around a lot. Didn’t really have too many of these. But then I found this in that 20-year-old folder, and, well, it looked OK. Pretty good, in fact. A light dusting, some tightening, and then off to R.J. to be put through the cotton gin.
The story itself is a little more straightforward horror (or weird, if you like) than the first story, “What Becomes God,” and centers on the idea of using memory as a weapon. “Object permanence,” is a wonderful little term describing the moment when an infant realizes that objects moved from its field of view don’t merely disappear, they’re just somewhere else. It’s a game-changer for a baby, and made for an interesting place to leap off from for the idea for this story.
At any rate, there’s some background on Novella #2. Tomorrow, three day’s from the general release of The End in All Beginnings, we’ll look at “Love in the Time of Zombies.”