From the mind of Megan Arkenberg

November 1, 2017

And then, the first line meme

Posted by Megan Arkenberg with 60 comments
Hello, beautiful people. How are you? I hope you're well. Let's pretend I never left.

I’m getting back in the fiction-writing saddle with another attempt at NaNoWriMo. Thirty days: 50,000 words: as many short stories as it takes to get there. Here’s the grand list of Works-in-Progress, with the approximate dates I began writing them and the first lines of the current draft.

“The Devil’s Verse” (Started: August 2016) I’m thinking it’s all over with, that it’s ended here--me driving north through the toy city of Sausalito, my hands sweating on the wheel, my tattoos striking me, as they often do, as if they belonged to a stranger. One of her books is open on the passenger seat beside me, one of those novels where something terrible happens in the middle.

“The Oracle and the Sea” (Started: 2010) – Kashmai hates the sea. For a long time, she thought it was the only thing she hated.

“It Is Not So, It Was Not So” (Started: February 2017) – When she was twenty-one, Mrs. Voss visited a Tarot reader at one of the festivals they used to hold at the lakefront on weekends in early summer. It had been a hot day, tremendously hot for the season: she can’t remember the future but she remembers the heat, the sleeveless aubergine blouse she wore and how the sweat plastered it to her spine, how the cards stuck to the Tarot reader’s wide, brown, ring-heavy fingers. 

“The Night Princes” (Started: 2012) – “I’m going to tell you a story,” she says, "and when the story is finished, this will all be over.”

“All in Green Went My Love Riding” (Started: 2015) All of this happened that summer we played the love games.

“Waxwidow and Tallowbride” (Started: 2012/2015) It was a sailors’ story first.

“Resurrection Dogs” (Started: 2013) From the German border, I took a decommissioned school bus—pale powder blue, like the ones I had ridden every morning in primary school—up a freshly-paved road through nearly forty miles of empty field.

“Rockettown: A Haunting” (Started: 2014) – For the rest of September, into October, the skies were empty: bare slates of dry blue, untouched by a shred of cloud. The silence gave my mother headaches.

“The Dead Women of Bajos Court” (Started: 2010) – Four dead women live in four white houses at the end of Bajos Court.

“The Unbinding of Artemis K.” (Started: 2010) – Between the sagging tents and peeling sideshow posters, past the rainwater sheeting down the carousel canopy and the Big Wheel gondolas creaking in the heavy air, the black umbrella wound its way. NB: This sentence will die a well-deserved death as soon as I figure whose POV this story belongs in.

"The Improbable Library of Asmodeus Foster" (Started: 2010) – Rosamund found the body in a footnote on page 217.

“Hollow Engines” (Started: 2012) – The exorcist is sweating blood on the church’s front steps.

"The Maiden Without Hands" (Started: 2011) – No first line yet, but an epigraph from M. R. James: "The other interested himself in questions to which Providence, as I hold, designs no answer to be given us in this state: he would ask me, for example, what place I believed those beings now to hold in the scheme of creation which by some are thought neither to have stood fast when the rebel angels fell, nor to have joined with them to the full pitch of their transgression."

“The Shadow of Thy Perfect Bliss” (Started: 2013) – The gamblers show up around midnight, pestering Theophile to take the angel out of its cage.

“Hail Horrors, Hail Infernal World” [working title] (Started: 2012) – Deborah Milton woke to find the angel reading her father’s papers. NB: I still like this opening, but I don’t think this story is about Deborah Milton anymore.

“Dorian” [working title] (Started: March 2017)  –  The next morning, I woke to hear her rummaging through her backpack for a lighter and a box of cigarettes. Something cold and damp and heavy lay on the sheets between us, stinking like blood and shit. “You’re not much of a monster,” she muttered—at me, presumably, although I hadn’t opened my eyes.

“Ninshubar” [working title] (Started: August 2017) – When you asked, it sounded like a simple request: “Don’t leave me with the dead.”

“A Life, Together” (Started: September 2017) – Valerie sits on the ottoman in my living room, jingling her car keys from hand to hand. She’s said she should go ten, fifteen times already—taken the keys, ornamented with a tiny plush elephant, from the compartment at the front of her backpack, tossed them between her hands, then tossed them back in the bag.

"Three Dangerous Tales" [working title] (Started: October 2017) – The first one begins on a beach, with a king and the man who loves him.

Telling Statistics
Serial killers: 5
Angels: 4
Fairytales: 4
Deities: 3
Charismatic cult leaders: 3
Midwestern settings: 1.5
Californian settings: 3.5
Gay AF: 5
Queer AF: 19 –Yes, that's all of them.
Self-loathing first person narrators: 10
Haunted or otherwise unheimleich houses: 10

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