Black Dress: The Making Of A Story

My most chilling – and successful – story (if successful means the number of times it’s been published) came straight from my unconscious mind. It’s the only story I’ve ever written that required minimal tweaking rather than driving myself crazy with endless rewrites before it felt ‘right’.

I found Black Dress on my hard disc one day and it gave me the shivers:  I had no memory of having written it.  I deduced that it was a freewrite, done at least a year earlier, when I’d just started writing fiction, and forgotten in the struggle to earn a living.

Black Dress won a short story competition and went on to be published seven times in print and online.


You can read it here.


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2 Responses

  1. God how I love black dresses. Well, black anything, really. But black dresses, silk, simple, beckoning are a true weakness. Or delight. Or passion.

    Having bonded with the story on that level and feeling like an accomplice in the conversation I took a look again at what you wrote about writing it.

    You say it “came straight from the unconscious mind”. That gives me pause. Not that a story can be guided by the unconscious mind, but that you sat down and let the words from that part of the mind flow. You gave them a page to write on, a place to come to life for the rest of the world to see.

    That is the lesson here for me. That is the inspiration. I want to do that, as a writer, more often. Let it flow, pick up a pen and let the words flow when a story is conjured there. If I wait too long it will fade and get lost in the torrent of other ideas, noise, stimuli.

    I’ll remember that.

    And, the next time I see a black dress in a shop window, I will stop and listen; it might have something to say — to me.

    Thanks for the story, Valerie. Lovely.

  2. Thank you so much, Jenifer. This indeed is the first part of the creative process. The everyday ‘to-do-list’ mind doesn’t do it. We need the everyday mind to stand aside.

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