I can often trace the inspiration for my stories back to one or a small handful of things. It could be something I read, a trip I took, a brainstorming idea from a writing prompt—almost anything really. My story “Time Debt,” published recently in Electric Spec is different. I don’t know what specifically inspired that story.
“Time Debt” grew out of a novella I wrote as a college student (oh so looooong ago), but bears little resemblance to that story except that it uses time dilation from near light speed travel as the primary speculative element. (That original novella, incidentally, was inspired by tarot and Hebrew mysticism.) At the time I started “Time Debt,” I was considering expanding that novella into a novel length story, but I felt I needed to more fully explore the potential effects of time dilation on society, something I hadn’t done well in the novella. I also wanted to write a piece of flash fiction.
The original version of “Time Debt” wasn’t very good. I trunked it, but I was drawn back to it many times over subsequent months. I reworked it several times, and eventually gave it to my Hopefull Monsters writing group for critique. After significant revisions to the main character’s internal conflict and epiphany, I finally had something I liked: a tale of regret and loss playing out over hundreds of years (and all in ~1,100 words).
If you haven’t already, click over the Electric Spec and read “Time Debt.” While there, make sure to check out the other fine stories in the issue, including work from A.L. Sirois, K. R. Hager, Larry Hodges, and Karen Munro.