Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Short Story What I Wrote (Justin Pollock's Debut)

I have written a short story (and by "short," I mean, "less than 500 words") that's been put up here:

You will notice it's credited to "Justin Pollock." A few years back I became concerned about the marketability of the name "Zyduck." I mean, that's the end of the alphabet; any book I would actually be able to get published would get jammed in the lower-right-hand corner of any bookshelf - awful visibility. So I went through a couple of pen names. My first choice was "Justin Pierce" for no particular reason at all, but it turns out there is a late skateboarder/actor of some note by that name already. Justin Leonard (Leonard being one my grandfathers) is a famous golfter. My middle name is Paul, so I tried working with that, but there are a couple of Justin Pauls out there already.

Eventually I settled on Pollock as a last name; it's got the "Paul" sound in it, and I like that "ock" at the end, which also sort of retains the "ock/uck" sound in my last name (my wife's too, actually - Poles, the both of us). It sounds nice if you say it if your voice is raspy when you have a cold, as I do now. It sounds like some kind of weird tribute to Jackson Pollock, which it isn't, but I like that one might think it was, for some reason. Best of all, though, though it's not a totally bizarre name by any means, there are not terribly many Justin Pollocks out there - a Google search for it has my story on the first page already, actually, not too shabby.

All of this is to assure Pillock that I did not try to usurp his online identity with a clumsy typographical error.

Anyway, the story itself - I've been writing horror for going on a year and a half. Had to take a break from writing the novel during the recent move, and then lost all my momentum. So I've been writing shorter pieces (I've got three stories just about ready to go out to a couple of publications, hopefully for actual money) to get working again. Then I found, which is a neat idea - all the stories have to be under 666 words (you get it ... you get it ...). I decided to write something as an experiment - I think that short form works well for horror, and the super-short word count frees you up to write something loose and quick and send it off without too much laborious self-editing and second guessing. The story I've written here is a little different in style and language (overegged, a bit) than the other stuff I've got in the hopper, but I thought I'd take advantage of what I viewed as a chance for experimentation to write an "old-timey" horror story.

More to come, possibly.


Bill Reed said...

You're probably right about the bookshelf thing, but people only buy off remainder tables anyway. "Zyduck" is a much cooler surname than Pollock, which is a type of fish that sounds like bollocks.

Meanwhile, Zyduck sounds like an extreme version of a Pokemon we all know and love. Admit it.

Oh, the story was good, sure.

plok said...

Well, the end of the alphabet hasn't hurt Roger Zelazny any...

I liked this quite a bit, because the last line makes me mistrustful of the narrator -- I think he's leaving out part of his final calculation, so how can I trust everything else he says? Because to my mind, that last line doesn't put across resignation but relief, and that's a nifty trick, a more elevated horror.

Wish you'd had another thirty words in it, though!

Justin said...

I have this to say in response for the two of you:

1. Zelazny is a special case. In a *couple* of ways, actually.
2. Fried pollock is delicious.

I've never actually read or heard definitively, "Yeah, if your last name begins with a Z, you're gonna wanna change it." But having been last for everything in the entire frigging world as a child because of the name has got me antcipating issues, yes. A bit of me wants to be "Justin Aames" just for the rush.

Justin said...

Also, thanks for the kind words youse guys, obv.

plok said...

It is delicious!

Say, "Justin Hake" has sort of a ring to it too, doesn't it?