Got a message on Facebook from a writer/editor I know earlier today, putting together a theme-anthology with another writer and editor, and would I be interested in doing a story? (Or at least would I indicate that I would be interested in doing one, to help sell the idea.)
Original anthologies are tough sales, and one of the ways to help make it go forward is to have a list of writers who have enough fans to tempt a publisher. My name doesn't carry much weight, but if you could get a couple of Neil Gaimans or China Miévilles or Connie Willises to sign up, that would probably be enough to interest a publisher.
These days, I'd guess the chances are much better that it will go as an ebook instead of treeware, but you never know.
No money up front, but if it sells, the writers split the pie, usually a pro rata share based on story length, and probably about what you'd get if you wrote it for a treeware 'zine.
Um. Anyway, I was asked, and I said "Sure." The gimmick is, there is an opening line that everybody will use, and then sky off in our own directions with it. This is usually a fun thing, because of how different those directions tend to be when you ask a bunch of writers to take a line and run with it.
Back in the day, some of the magazines used to do a variation on this by showing a picture and then asking writers to do a story based on it. Those invitation were usually more limited, a handful, but it's still an interesting trigger.
I dunno if the project will go, and I can't talk about it in detail yet, but the opening line was intriguing enough that it immediately bought a scene to mind, so I thought, Huh, I'll just write that down.
Which I did.
And then the scene moved into the next scene, and the next, and in an hour or so, I had a story. Less than 1800 words, and I dunno if the editor will like it, but hey, it's done.
I had no idea where it was going when I started, just that one short scene, but halfway through the second page, a light bulb lit and I knew who the main character was, and then I just followed him to see what road he'd lead me down. Flowed like warm oil down a clean glass pane.
Sometimes it happens like that, and it's always magic when it does, because you lose track of everything save the tale, entering into the state known as Flow.
Click, start. Click, done. No sense of elapsed time.
If the anthology doesn't get picked up, I'll probably eventually stick the story up somewhere. I can tell you my working title: A Few Minutes in the Kitchen and Dining Room of Hamelin's Restaurant.
And now, back to the novel ...