I found this piece of paper recently. I’d made it many years back and stuck it to my wall when I was trying to get organized with my linked short story collection, Coconut Dreams.
- I’d misplaced this before I had a chance to check off all of the boxes. I usually took it down from my wall if I knew anyone was coming over, as I wasn’t ready to share my progress, or lack thereof. After that, the sheet likely got misplaced in a move.
- Upon finding it again, I immediately had the urge to check off all the boxes. I’ve managed to resist so far, as the page feels like a relic of an earlier stage of writing.
- It amuses me how I had an “ALMOST PERFECT” column, and how many stories I thought were in it. They all went through numerous additional edits before submission and eventual publication—if I were to make this accurate, I’d need to tape more columns to the end (like, MANY more columns). Also, I don’t know if I’d call a story “perfect.” Maybe a better heading on the right hand side would be HAPPY WITH IT. I'd definitely include the START and DRAFT columns though; they were especially helpful steps that built momentum.
- Some of the original titles ended up being the final ones (Picking Trilliums, Grand Opening, Fallen Leaves, Coconut Dreams), while others went through a few iterations or started with a placeholder (Deck Story...Church Story...Father Story).
- I didn’t add any dates. I think it would have felt too forced with respect to creativity, but I’m sure setting target dates might be helpful for some people.
- Seeing this reminds me how difficult the order of the stories was. I remember agonizing over it, as my two main characters, Ally and Aiden, age through childhood as the collection progresses. It felt like an interlinked web where every plot change in one story affected other stories in subtle, but incredibly frustrating ways. The arrangement did morph slightly. The biggest “mover” was probably The Call of the Bell, which went from the middle to the very first story.
- I have no idea what the Summer Storm story was actually going to be beyond the image in my first post. It’s the thirteenth story in the original order, so it's sort of like the floor in an apartment building that they don’t list on the elevator, but is still there.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Derek Mascarenhas is a graduate of the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program, a finalist and runner-up for the Penguin Random House of Canada Student Award for Fiction, and a nominee for the Marina Nemat Award. His fiction has appeared in places such as Joyland, The Dalhousie Review, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Antigonish Review. His linked short story collection, Coconut Dreams, was called a "stunning debut" in Quill and Quire’s starred review and The Globe and Mail named it one of the best reads from Canadian small presses. Derek currently lives in Toronto and is working on a novel in the magic realism genre.