"Writing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent elimination," Louise Brooks once said. Probably no phrase could describe Peter Chiykowski's work better. This Canadian author writes micro stories that fit on a postcard, and he's nailing them, too. He said that his style is hard to pin down and he switches and mashes up genres and tones, but that's part of what makes them so unique. You never know what the next sentence is gonna be.
Chiykowski has been pursuing his dream of making a living off his writing and illustration for the past three years. "I've cobbled together a full-time career writing short stories, drawing webcomics, appearing at conventions, developing for the tabletop RPG EMBERWIND, and running Kickstarters, like one I have going right now for my short stories and deck of story prompts," he told Bored Panda.
"I have a weird background as a freelance writer and illustrator in a bunch of random genres. I've worked on everything from video games to pinball machines to literary poetry to Korean comic translations. It's a weird life, but I love it. I think that's why my stories take on so many genres and styles."
"I've always been a big reader of just about every genre," Chiykowski said. "I started off writing poems and short stories for Canadian literary journals in 2009ish, which was around the time my webcomic Rock Paper Cynic started taking off. I had more and more work to do on the webcomic and less and less time for short stories, which sometimes took weeks to finish. Over time, I stopped writing stories altogether."
As it turned out, microfiction was probably the only way he'd ever get to start writing again. "The longer I went without writing, the more I'd have these weird little nugget-ideas for short story premises. I'd jot them down and daydream about what I'd write "when I find the time. It took a few years for me to realize I'd never find the time, so I decided to make the time. I started off trying to write down these ultra-short stories, and because I was so used to visual storytelling from my webcomic, I experimented with different graphic formats."
The one that really stuck with him was the 'postcard story' that became the basis for his project, Shortest Story. "I loved the idea that these felt like postcards sent from parallel realities, alternate selves and impossible worlds that feel familiar even while being full of fantasy or horror or science fiction. I loved that every narrator could be you."
"It helped that inspiration was out there. A Small Fiction by James Miller is an incredible example of the power of microfiction, and the photo-comic A Softer World by Joey Comeau and Emily Horne has always been a favorite of mine."
"The best time to start your creative project was yesterday. The next best time is today," the author added. "It's a cliche, but it's a damn good one. If you have a creative project you've been wanting to pursue, give yourself permission to try and to fail. Start now. Go ahead and make a joyous mess of it. The worst that can happen is that you do a horrible job and no one but you ever knows about it. But even that will let you learn something so you can start again on stronger footing tomorrow. There's a version of you one year in the future who is looking back through time at you at this exact moment, and they're wishing they could tell you to just go for it. I'd listen to them. They're from the future, so they know what's up!"
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