14 August 2018

from Author Nicholson

As part of our awesome August 31, 2018 issue of Electric Spec we're proud to present Twist by Michael J. Nicholson.

On Lightning Strikes and Mountain Climbs

As far as pop-culture goes, I am a child of the 80s. So when my son received a Rubik's cube for his birthday this year, I promptly sat down and learned how to solve it. It took roughly 24 hours until I had it down pat and the movements were almost second nature.

During this process, the concept of "solving" the cube by twisting reality, rather than the cube itself, occurred to me. Within about 5 minutes I had the story, pretty much fully formed, sitting in my head. About an hour and a half later I had Twist in a Word document.

Now, at this point you're probably thinking something along the lines of "screw this guy!". Bear with me. This isn't me bragging about how easy it is to write stories. If it were that easy I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be toiling away full-time developing IT systems for large corporations. But it isn't, so I am, and right now the writing takes third place behind family and work.

While the experience I had writing Twist has happened before, with other stories, it's not even close to the norm. Twist was a lighting strike. The usual process is more like scaling the north face of Everest, solo, with no oxygen. Or Equipment. Blindfolded.

I have stories I have wrestled into submission under many hours, days, weeks or months. I have a couple of stories that I really like, except for the fact that there is something indefinable wrong with them. These stories sit in folders on my Dropbox for years before I realise how I can make them into something that people might actually want to read. Or perhaps I will never feel that way about them.

It is this indefinable quality that makes us like a story. It's something bigger than the plot, bigger than the characters or the dialogue. It transcends good or bad proofreading and copyediting. It's there (or not there) regardless of how clever a twist (see what I did there) you finish with. It is of course all these things as well, but good fiction--fiction that grabs you and won't let you stop reading--can lack some of these elements and still be good. Bad fiction, on the other hand, can have everything you think should make it good, and still fail to engage the reader.

Twist is not an overly serious story. It was fun to write, and I hope it will be fun to read. My hope is that Twist has that "something", that strange, unmeasurable quantum-like quality that only exists when you, dear reader, take the time to engage with the story. It could not exist without you.

Thanks, Michael! Very interesting!
Check out Twist and all the other stories on August 31!

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