By Richard Balthazar
As you’ve probably noted, most of my creative writing efforts have been in the longer novel form. This includes my first outpourings as a teenager: two (typed!) period novels featuring more or less me as hero and Annette Funicello as heroine. The first was an early settler love story, and the second an adventure/romance set at Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. I haven’t found the courage to re-read them since. (Re the typing remark: At the age of 12, I taught myself that crucial skill using Mother’s old book and Smith Corona.)
There have been several false starts at shorter prose, some of which were very intriguing and might be salvaged. These included tales of a hippie twist on the Faust legend, a gay artist in crisis, and a very debauched weekend. The attempts that I consider successful are offered here for your reading enjoyment. Again, each is freely downloadable.
Traveling Men, a short story about cowboy love. Written in 1989 in an overflow of creativity after finishing the first draft of what was to become BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, this story probably had roots in my own relationship. The first half of it got published some years ago in a gay newsletter, but I never heard about the second appearing. Sadly, I can’t vouch for the historicity of the partner theme, but I have been through the valley of the San Saba River.
This story was intended as the first in a series of gay cow-people tales. I got a good part of the way through a second called “A Little Ride” involving the gay cow-men and a wild cow-lesbian named Miss Min. It would be great kicks to work on this cow-folk series—in my leisure time, of course. Don’t hold your breath.
Homage, a short story about beauty. This incident was pulled from my diary of the late 60’s and fleshed out. It’s a good example of my problem with the distinction between fiction and nonfiction (memoir). It really happened, but making a memory ‘real’ again in words requires descriptions and interpretations that can only approximate the truth. And what if your memory is faulty on details? At what point do such honest mistakes and misinterpretations turn into fantasy or fabrication? Fact or fiction read the same and are equally believable (unless the fiction is fantasy, and that too can sometimes be excruciatingly believable).
Now (in 2023) that I’ve stumbled through a long series of memoirs (see Writing), I’ve turned to writing fiction in short stories revolving around my ancient life as an ecstatic dancer. Here in February, I’ve now completed three of them: Whatever Works, Better Buy a Dozen, and Bo Peep’s Sheep. I hope you enjoy an old man’s fantasies.