My name is Stewart, and I’m a novella-ist.
I’ve been mythologizing the redwoods since I used to lean against the big hi-fi stereo in the living room listening to the Beatles. Dad always said to not do that, because leaning against the speaker screwed up the hatching. But I didn’t listen to him. I heard the music.
Years later, when I was eight, I had an ongoing story that I told myself aloud on the paper route about tiny people that lived in another world who rode rabbits and could come into our world through drainage tunnels. I didn’t realize how loud I was saying this until Mrs. Gordon told Bonnie to tell me she liked the story, but could I keep it down because I was waking her up.
That was also around the time that Yvonne and Pat used to ask me to tell them an ongoing haunted house story during recess. Just for fun. Encouraged the hell out of me. They had no idea.
A few years later in high school, I spent a lot of time writing Bladder Magazine, and that one I did eventually have to burn. But good God, those were the years my brother and I constructed a life-size dummy, and were all set to drag it across the far end of the football field during Homecoming halftime, except on our trial run we saw there was just no way it would work, and so wound up chucking it front of his ’74 Gran Torino going forty on the Avenue one night, except, oops, it wasn’t his car—somebody else hit the dummy instead—and kept on going—and that kind of thing would never have happened if I hadn’t shared my Bladder with my brother and my friends, everybody enjoying it just fine at the time.
Eventually, I got hooked on poetry.
Oh, editing and writing for the Cub Reporter, doing the same at College of the Redwoods, and again at Humboldt State University, and writing for This Week News and Review, and even writing for the last ten years with The Independent—Southern Humboldt’s Only Locally-Owned Newspaper—none of that honed my craft as well as several years of that private and devout exploration of the self and the universe through language called poetry.
Which I generally can’t stand to read. And I never sit around writing poetry anymore, ever since I started sitting around writing short stories.
But I don’t do that anymore, either. What I do is stand around and write novels.
After I tried novellas, it was only a matter of time before I’d move on to short novels. Been on the hard stuff now for a while.
Heh heh, it’s not like I sometimes travel to my old grade school, and sit there on the playground late at night, whispering spooky stories to my imaginary friends. Don’t be ridiculous. Now the people trapped in time thinking about eternity that I never see live in dozens of countries worldwide. And I get to share my stories with them.
Indeed, must. On account I’m a story-creating addict. Springing through garish discords of chiaroscuro, rays of a cinnabar moon playing vociferous necromancy upon bedizened timber, double-dyed, all polychromatic, hell yeah, that’s what I do. Well, plus I toolbelt-up. Splittin’ the wood, fixin’ the fences, buckin’ the hay, throwin’ up rooster tails on the ol’ ATV burnin’ brodies, too—YEE-HAHH! Let ‘er buck! Later on, having cracked a brew and whatnot, I’d put on some Neil or some Stones, whip out the pad and pen, and start thrummin’ through those prismatic spinneys.
That’s why I’m here to tell you. Because I’ve been to the cave. And I’m close to the forest.
Look, something’s going to ruin your life.