Friday, August 21, 2009


The Impossible Inferno

I have finally started work on my 500th short story! When it's done I'll be exactly halfway through my writing career. Phew! It has taken twenty years to reach this stage. My earliest surviving story ('Raindancing') dates from August 1989, and now here I am in August 2009 working on number 500... As I always wanted my 500th to be a special story, I've decided to make it a novelette and also to use an idea I have been carrying around in my head for a very long time. The photo below shows me thinking about how best to do justice to this idea...

I wanted to be an author from an early age and started writing fiction when I was 6 or 7 years old. Obviously the stories I produced back then weren't very good, but occasionally I had a viable and interesting notion that was beyond my ability to adequately render in prose. Some of those notions I never gave up on and I still plan to commit all of them to paper. Perhaps my favourite concerns a voodoo magician who creates a wooden globe of the world from leftover voodoo dolls and accidentally sets it on fire, thus precipitating the worldwide 'impossible inferno' of the story's title.

That's the tale I've just started working on, more than thirty years after its original conception! I think it will turn out to be one of my wildest adventure stories. But now I'm getting worried. I'm Welsh and I'm almost at the midpoint of my stated goal. If my entire life's work is regarded as a mountain, then I am almost at the summit, preparing to plant my flag before beginning my descent on the other side. 500 stories to the top; 500 back down. But the Welsh always fail just before the halfway stage... Am I fated to die before the 500th is done? That's the sort of pathetic luck a Welshman would have.

If I was American, Russian or German I would undoubtedly reach my target of 1000 stories without a hitch. If Italian or French, I might reach 987 before dying. If Dutch, Irish or Spanish, 830. If Moroccan or Greek or Finnish, 725. If English, 682. If Portuguese, 590. But I'm Welsh. It's almost a certainty that I will expire at 499. It's too good a chance for fate to miss. I'm Welsh, remember!

"Duw duw bachgen! There's a Welsh writer, see, and he's working on a project, it's 1000 stories all interconnected and it's ambitious and clever, mun, but he's Welsh, so he can't be allowed to finish it or even reach a significant stage along its length. Better to get him killed in a car accident or from one of those embolisms, see, so he remains obscure and doesn't make difficulties for the future definition of his culture..."

That was one of the angels who watch over Wales talking... At least I have already designed a display for my tombstone. I don't want words. I want a graph. This one. I can't reveal the meaning of the lines yet, but clearly they are both plotted against time (in years) and quantity (in whole units). The two instances where they cross should have been noticeable to me at the time but ironically weren't. Both lines can be extrapolated into the future and might even level off before my death. That all depends on how lucky or unlucky I am...

May I take an insurance policy out on you?

Hehe, just kidding, congrats on your 500th anniversary!

I'm unreliably informed that you are in fact the great-great-great-great grandson of a scurvy Fijian pirate's union with a whelking wench on the Gower in the Year of Our Lord 1792. You will therefore not only meet your target but exceed it by 63 tales. Then you will perish (something to do with a bucket, but the details are hazy).
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