All the Other Boys, a short story
A kooky and hopeless young woman recounts the spectacularly awful rise and fall of her first real relationship. Spanning five years of earnest loyalty to this young man, she discovers the truth about sex, religion, life, and herself, interspersed with memories of all the other boys who stole her heart for a short time. For fans of contemporary stories of first love, first disappointment, and growing up, “All the Other Boys” is darkly comical and ultimately triumphant.
This is a stand-alone SHORT STORY at 6600 words (about 25 pages).
Surprise! I know this one came out of nowhere! This story was hardly, if at all, on my list of planned WIPs. I was just working happily one day on some Corbin stories, and bam: writing challenge, new story draft, and this came out, almost completely fully formed, 8 hours of drafting, another couple weeks of editing, and here it is! No, Corbin is not in this one, by the way. And all the other books I had planned are still in the works. But it’s been thirteen months now that I haven’t had a new release, and when this writing challenge came along, that had both everything and nothing to do with why I wrote this story.
JA Konrath put this challenge out, about two weeks ago, to write, edit, and publish a book in 8 hours. “Book” here meaning short stories and short non-fiction ideas for most of us.
I write slow. I hole myself up and dig myself into the ground worrying over minor details. There is a point at which perfectionism becomes a hindrance. Nothing can ever be perfect; perfect is the enemy of good. The more and more I do this publishing thing, the more I know that’s true. Which is not an excuse to skip edits or anything, that is not what I’m saying at all; but what I’m saying is that you can pick a story to death, until it’s dead and lifeless and you hate it. That much is true.
When I published EWTF, I almost got to that point. I had a list 30-items long of things I still thought were wrong with it. After seven drafts! I buried that list, and I published the book, and I did not look at it again for about nine months. I was scared I would think it was awful. But you know what? When I finally read it again, it was not awful. None of those things I thought were wrong with it even mattered! Not a single one of those things I worried about were noticed by anyone! Instead, people noticed other things I didn’t even think to worry about, lol! But that’s beside the point.
The point is that sometimes something “wrong” is not really wrong at all. Sometimes you’re just trading out one set of problems for a new set of problems. You could go around and around the revisions wheel forever in this way.
But in the end, I do believe it is a wonderful debut book. It was a whole snapshot of the best book I could write in July of 2012, and really, that’s all any book can ever be.
So that was where this challenge came in. I was stuck in a place of fear and dreading my sophomore release, thinking of all the things that could go wrong. There is just so much PRESSURE on the idea of writing a second novel, when my first was already pretty well received. The sophomore panic, you know. It has to be better than the first, it has to be smarter than the first, it has to show that I’m growing as a writer, it has to be loved by the people who loved the first one, and a whole checklist of other things…
But this short story didn’t have to be anything other than what it is: something I started just for fun, but which turned into something actually quite entertaining, and delightful, and even a little bit clever, if I might say so myself. This short story reminded me of how much I love writing short stories, and perhaps that I should do them more often, in between nitpicking my novels to death. Short stories, with their simple plots and small space for finite complexities, are made for experimentation and letting loose. They’re made to win or lose with great fervor! I think that would be a healthy thing to have in my life.
So here is the story of a young woman and her boyfriend. This story is a coming-of-age chick lit (NA age range), a bit literary in style but not at all serious. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
Thing #1: Readers will get a first look at the full blurb for Leila’s novel, which has not been shared yet online, not even on this website! It will be at the back of the book.
Thing #2: For those who participated in the 8-hour Book Challenge and downloaded the original version of this story, you will be able to decide to keep it or upgrade to this revised edition. I have contacted Amazon, and you should be able to upgrade some time soon if you choose to do so. Or you can keep the version you have. Your choice! The story is still exactly the same, but now 20% longer, fuller, clearer, and shinier! You will get an email from them when the upgrade has been enabled.
Thing #3: It’s only available on Kindle at the moment, because I wanted to try out Kindle Select, which requires exclusivity. It will eventually be published on all ebook platforms. If you require an epub edition, and don’t want to wait, just email me and I’ll meet you on a dark corner to slip you a copy from underneath my trench coat… just kidding. Email me and we’ll sort it out!
The story is too small to do a print edition on its own, but it will eventually be collected in my chapbook in progress, How to Stand on Your Hands.
If you’re interested in trying out some of the other 8-hour challenge stories, the full list is here.
My brilliant crit partner, Nina also wrote one — a very tense and fascinating zombie story — which you can get here.
Happy reading! Happy writing!