Introduction to The Panic â€“ Volume 1
This collection of short stories began when I decided I needed to begin writing again. In the mid-1980s I went through a divorce that angered me. In the midst of that I thought perhaps if I wrote about it in some way I could work out my feelings â€“ my disappointments and irritation. I took some classes, completed a correspondence course on novel writing, and began my journey. I wrote for about the next ten years, completing seven novels and a number of short stories.
The novels werenâ€™t bad (in my estimation), and they indeed allowed me to move past my emotional frustrations and baggage. I even hoped to publish one or all of my novels, but that didnâ€™t work out. At the time the only real way to publish was to engage a literary agent who really liked your work and would shop the manuscript around to publishing houses. Unfortunately that didnâ€™t happen and all those masterpieces ended up in tidy boxes stored away.
The other contributing factor adding to my storage woes was that I vowed at the time to never self-publish. I figured that was for losers. Real writers would never stoop that low. If a real publisher didnâ€™t appreciate my work, then self-publishing was an exercise in vanity.
As for the various short stories I wrote, I experienced a form of writerâ€™s block in that I felt one had to be extremely clever to write a good piece of short fiction. Since I didnâ€™t view myself in that light I wrote a limited number of these stories and convinced myself the genre wasnâ€™t for me.
I got lazy after a time and slipped out of writing. Every now and then Iâ€™d sit down to try my hand at it, but too many distractions in life called me away. Fast-forward another ten years and by the mid-2000s I was happily married again....
In early 2014 the urge to write came upon me again. I played around with some ideas for novels but also felt compelled to try short stories once more. Looking around the Internet I found a faith-based writing website called Faithwriters (www.faithwriters.com). It offered a weekly Writing Challenge that appealed to me. The editors chose a theme and the challenge was to write a story to that topic in 750 words or less, about a page and a half single-spaced. The intent is to sharpen and hone oneâ€™s writing skills. In my case it forced me to be more concise than ever. After all, when you have only 750 words to create a story and bring it to conclusion, youâ€™d better learn to be concise or you wonâ€™t make the word cutoff....
Writing my Challenge story became a weekly habit I greatly anticipated. In contrast to my earlier struggles with short stories many of these simply flowed out of me. Of course now I had a Helper: being born-again the Holy Spirit lives within me. Often Iâ€™d come up with an idea prior to the posting of the topic and my thoughts surprisingly dovetailed with it. If that didnâ€™t happen, once I got the topic, it wasnâ€™t long before a story would make itself known. If you know how writers work, weâ€™re usually always on the lookout for the germ of a story, perhaps a scene, even simply some dialogue. In the case of the stories Iâ€™ve written Iâ€™ll admit Iâ€™ve â€śappropriatedâ€ť several of them. Some people Iâ€™ve come across have recounted incidents that happened in their lives. It seems a shame to allow such testimonies to die through our lack of oral tradition, so rather than let that happen, Iâ€™ve tried to capture the essence of their narrative, fictionalize it to an extent, and put it out there. I hope my recounting does justice to those who â€ścontributedâ€ť in this manner. This whole story process has been pretty amazing and I give the Lord credit for it all.
The stories are an eclectic collection all with a Christian worldview. I learned about worldview by reading several books by Chuck Colson. Everyone has a worldview. Itâ€™s how we look at the world and the things that happen around us, and how we make sense of it all. As a Christ-follower I have a Christian worldview. I process everything through the lens of Scripture. I believe â€“ in fact, I know â€“ that this is the most comprehensive means of viewing life. Itâ€™s Godâ€™s way. Heâ€™s got the perspective no human has. Heâ€™s given us access to His perspective through the pages of the Bible. If we read and study the Bible, we are privileged to learn much of what God intends to impart to us, with the Holy Spirit revealing what He will to us as God deems.
Some of the stories herein are hard-core salvation narratives. Others depict people who reject Jesus and the salvation He offers. A few look at life from the other side and briefly explore the demonic realm. Some include social or political commentary in story form. Several take an amusing look at life. Like I said above, itâ€™s an eclectic collection. One thing youâ€™ll quickly note as well is that I donâ€™t subscribe to political correctness. Iâ€™d have to say I write and let the chips fall as they may. As many of us have come to say in recent years: â€śIt is what it is.â€ť
One final thing. Youâ€™ll recall I previously vowed never to self-publish. Times change, formats and methods change. I never envisioned electronic book publishing and the market opportunity it offers. I canâ€™t know how this book will be received. Clearly many in the culture have a bias against anything remotely religious or faith-based. But if youâ€™re looking for quick reads; if you donâ€™t mind being challenged in your thinking; if you want something a little different; you may find this little book of short stories of interest.