Sometimes - and for me, almost always - we need a slight push to inspire us to complete the things we might have challenged ourselves to accomplish in the first place. My soon-to-be-finished season here on Martha’s Vineyard is an example of this; my friend Scott Erlich had to rally me around the idea of being “the sophisticated bartender” his employer was looking for, which would thereby grant me another season on this wonderful island. This entire website, in fact, would not exist if not for website genius Kyle Bujnicki’s friendly cajoling - which he’s since had to pay for by toiling for two straight years to bring to its current state. Even these monthly blogs and emails are a way of attempting to complete a task that was laid out before me back in May of 2016.
Well, for some time now I’ve been casually pondering the concept of adding a feature to michaelaba.com whereby people can reach out to me for personal suggestions of an individual story I might feel best fits their tastes or has some other appeal specifically to him or her. Granted - in selling these stories for $1 each, this isn’t a grand income-generating idea on my part, but I found myself enjoying the concept in general. A NYC friend might like “Subway Butcher”, for example, or one of my island friends might like “Walden Pond”. Some of my spacier friends out there - and there are several of you - might get a kick out of the short story “SanDee”.
Of course, I haven’t initiated this little maneuver yet; there are other ideas mingling at the same time, like creating audio versions of certain stories or maybe even giving a reading here and there. But the concept has been lulling around in my brain for some time now. And then, of course, a friend recently reached out for suggestions on what stories I thought she should read first, as a way of getting to know me as a writer. And minutes ago, presto - I created a list of ten short stories that, in chronological order, hopefully does just that. So here, for this month’s blog, is the list I came up with.
And to Katie Eastman - the same long-lost classmate who brought us that picture from last month’s blog (and has since been in touch and is currently a life coach and therapist, mother of a working jazz musician, and wife to a man from Nantucket) - thanks for inspiring me to do this!
1) My Confession
2) Bernard’s Conclusion
These were both written my last year of UVM, when my college professor Julia Alvarez - who later became quite famous in her own right - strongly urged me to follow my dream of being a writer.
3) Nat Merril: Cosmic Private Eye
I had decided to focus more on comedy, and this is one where the style and voice were truly becoming my own.
In trying to make use of a fun idea I had, I ended up with maybe one of my favorites.
5) My Deal With Malcom
Again - it was the idea that started driving my writing, and I was definitely relying on my imagination and actively not trying to write about anything from my real life.
6) A Matter of Taste
Not one of my “big” ones, but this was the first of several I was able to have published in the Beacon Hill News. (The publisher originally thought it was non-fiction, which is hard to imagine…)
7) Pictures of My Campaign
I sometimes enjoy when some of my sillier ideas are somehow pulled off.
8) Circles and Squares
Even when completely concentrating on fiction, friends and family can sometimes think I’m writing directly about them. In this case, my sister Jacky’s home mirrored the family situation I created - on purpose, as a kind of homage - but the rest of the story, including the relationship and behavior of the siblings - was COMPLETELY MADE UP. (She still doesn’t seem to think so…)
9) The Danny Psychosis
If I had to choose one later story that best displays all the things I attempt to do, this would probably be the one.
10) Window Dressing
A more recent, strange one. It’s possible I may be the only who’ll like it…
OK - it’s definitely possible my list will be different for anyone else who happens to request one at any point in the future. Hopefully the new section “Request a Story From Michael!” will be a feature on michaelaba.com soon. Website genius Kyle - you’re being put on notice right now!