Sometimes you just gotta write a thing without knowing whether you’ll ever put it somewhere.
Last spring, I was caught between several projects that seemed interminable: a demonic fantasy-comedy novel, a more grounded fantasy-non-comedy novel draft, and a comic…not to mention all the assignments, grading, and other stressors that came with grad school.
Yet I hit a point where I felt fairly free. No project was done, but everything felt stable and doable. More importantly, I was burning to do something new.
But it had to be short and it had to be fun.
StopTank is one of the two short works I wrote at that time. It was inspired by the sense of wonder I feel when I’m deep in exploration-heavy sci-fi with more questions than answers. A tank rolls through a wasteland, and it also contains robots because I wanted robots there.
Writing it let me test some story questions I had on a tiny, tiny scale. Questions like “can the robots have stats that are kind of extraneous, but look cool?” and “I loved how in that random 50s short story I read that actually wasn’t good at all, the spaceships took photos on rolls of electromagnetic tape and their communications feeds malfunctioned while they were walking on the planet’s surface so they had to walk with long conductive copper canes and use sign language, can I try weird technology like that?”
I wasn’t sure I’d ever put it anywhere—it was an experiment for my own satisfaction, after all—but now here it is, on some website’s radar. Plus, I’m wrapping up work on that fantasy-comedy. I’m already itching to jump to the next new thing.
But I know I’m not ready.
For more fictiony tidbits, reflect with me on “prettyboys” in manga or the atmospheric sandscape web novel that is Pyrebound.