Lately I seem to have fallen back into no-blog-land even as my writing brain has been kicking out ideas right and left and every which way. There's the Material Cultures paper, for which I have so many things to say that I can already tell it'll be a struggle keeping it under the 20-minute mark. And then there are the short story ideas that keep accumulating in the notebook I carry around. First there was the subway station staircase story idea; then there was the haunted urban virtual reality modeling story that I never quite got off the ground, but still want to write someday. And lately quite a few more ideas have been suggesting themselves.
There for a while I wrote poems when I wrote anything creative at all, but now I seem to want to write only fiction, and specifically in the weird and eerie and ghostly mode. So, in the interests of getting back into blogging and encouraging myself to actually follow through on ideas once I have them, here's a list of Stories I Might Write:
- Scientists synthesize a scent (or a flavor) that smells or tastes different to different people, but induces a strange sense of déjà vu in everyone who encounters it—a certainty that they've encountered this scent or flavor somewhere important, and that there's a rich, fascinating, powerfully detailed memory attached to it, which they absolutely must try to remember, but it's just out of their reach. Some manage to remember things that never actually happened; others just wind up with an acute and inconsolable case of nostalgia.
- A character is fed up with getting email meant for someone whose address is apparently one letter off from her own, and sets out to try to contact the person. But it turns out that virtually meeting one's email doppelgänger is as bad an omen as seeing one's physical doppelgänger. (This one, minus the virtual encounter and the supernatural element, is completely autobiographical.)
- Whatever story goes with the title "Dark Archive."
- Someone finds and buys a cache of old postcards from the 1910s or thereabouts in an antique shop, all in the same handwriting. The messages on the cards seem to tell a story amid all the ordinary back-of-a-postcard remarks. I don't yet know what happens next.
- An artist's book by an unknown artist arrives, via a dealer, at a special collections library. It may be haunted in some way, or it may just have some very odd qualities. Weird and disturbing happenings ensue. (If I ever write this, it'll be my M.R. James homage. I can't resist trying my hand at the "haunted artifact" plot.)
- An invisible train car, which contains an infinite collection of books and exists in some sort of alternate dimension, turns out to be accessible on any train, as long as you know how to find it. (I got this idea after hearing how Amtrak conductors sometimes refer to the Quiet Car as the "library car." When I tweeted this idea, someone reminded me of Audrey Niffenegger's "The Night Bookmobile," which was probably also in the back of my head when I imagined the Library Car.)
- I have a couple of ideas about phantom street noises: the sounds of carriage wheels in houses on a city block that used to be a street a century or more before; the tinny off-key music of an unseen ice cream truck that only some people seem to hear on summer evenings. But no plots have materialized for those stories yet.
- A man briefly encounters an artist whose work fascinates him for years; eventually he encounters the artist again, and buys an engraving that moves him, though he can't quite tell why and it's just an image of a corner of a perfectly ordinary room. And...I know how it ends, but I don't want to reveal it, because I'd rather keep it a surprise.