Titles of Stories I Have Not Yet Written

This post was written by former Friday blogger Stephany Aulenback, who subsequently founded Crooked House.

I have writer’s block. We’ve had a tough few months here in Nova Scotia. Our old cat died and one of the kittens we got to replace it died, my husband’s grandmother died and then his elderly aunt died, I had a miscarriage and then my mother got sick.* Recently, I’ve been blaming my writer’s block on these unhappy events. The truth is, though, I often have writer’s block. As much as I’d like to think it’s an aberration there is clear evidence that it is not a new thing. A quick glance at my old Word files from months or even years ago reveals the crazy titles of dozens of short stories, short stories that I meant to write but didn’t. Here are a few:

Nothing Will Become Clear, Not Immediately, Not In Time. (This is a blank document.)

Baseball Bat From Hell. (This is also a blank document.)

Bird of Six Songs. (Also blank.)

When Someone Reaches Out for You. (This document is blank except for the words: “reach back.” Fellow Canadian Celine Dion would be proud of me.)

An Encyclopedia of Insecurities. (Blank. I know I stole this one from a blurb on the back of my copy of Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories. Anatole Broyard said it.)

Rules of the Unknown. (Blank. I think maybe this phrase comes from math? I don’t know where I picked it up.)

Know the Ways. (This document contains a few lines about words being keys and something else about a broken lock. I do happen to remember where this phrase comes from though. It’s the title of one of Hildegard of Bingen’s books. She was a nun in the Middle Ages, a sort of mystic visionary, and one of the only well-known female writers of her time. I guess I planned to whip off a short story worthy of her. Apparently I got distracted.)

The Cutlery of Love. (Blank. Maybe I was hungry.)

What She Wants, What She Knows. (Blank.)

The Wanting and the Getting. (Blank. Maybe I was listening to the Rolling

Now This Is Worth Discussing. (Blank. I guess it wasn’t.)

There Is a Bigger Person Inside Me. (Blank.)

I Thought I Heard The Shuffle of Angels. (Blank. This is stolen from a Blind Boys of Alabama song, I think. But in the song it’s the shuffle of angels’ feet.)

Personality Test. (Blank. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be the title of a short story or if I really did mean to save something about a personality test.)

Invisible Ink. (Blank. Well, it’s fitting.)

Fat Chances and Slim. (Blank.)

One Hundred Similar Stories. (This document contains approximately half each of two very short stories. They are not particularly similar.)

The Mechanical Flying Insect. (Blank. I was going to write something about a scientist at Berkeley who is working on developing one of these, for real, and then didn’t.)

How To Make A World. (A couple of lines. Clearly unfinished.)

All killer, I swear.

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