I skipped a week, since there was nothing major to report on the writing front last week, though progress was made. New developments this week, which is always good.
Ray Guns and Patterns and Bridges and Monkeys
Sent "Ray Gun" out to the world, we'll see how it fares. Should do well. It's a fun story. I also revised and fine-tuned a flash fiction piece I'd been toying with and sent that one out. FYI, Flash Fiction is the term used for a really, really short piece. For example, "Ray Gun" is a regular ol' short story, clocking in at 4800 words. "Patterns," however, is only 548 words. Big difference. There's a pretty good market for these buggers lately, so we'll see how it does. So at this point now I have 7 short stories in circulation, with "The Bridge" making 8 once it's done. Not bad. I think I've gotten my short story urge relieved for now. Unless I get invited to write something - that would be nice. I write some of my best stuff when invited to: 'The Doll Wagon," "Selection" and more recently, "Seeing Monkeys" which I have yet to hear back about, hint hint...
Speaking of "The Bridge," finished up the 4th draft on Tuesday at lunch, coming along nicely and hopefully it'll be done soon. It felt like it needed one scene added, which I'm working on now, but aside from that, really just needs editing and refining.
The Fork In the Road
I've been kind of wallowing in a bit of an emotional quagmire recently, trying to get my bearings and finding myself at a number of crossroads, intersections we all face now and then. Writing-wise – since this is a writing blog, though other stuff sneaks in – was what to begin working on next, novel-wise. Again, the old concern - which road to take. Take the wrong one and... doesn't matter. You can't worry about that, then you stop moving. Have to keep writing, even if it feels sometimes you're on the road alone or what you're doing is pointless. Like my friend Fran said to me the other day, you write what you're excited about, what feels right for you. If not, then it's work. If you're excited about it, it's a passion.
I touched on this before - my short stories are straight horror, of various types depending on my mood, and I really love to write them, edit them, send them out, hopefully creeping out the people who read them. My novels, though, have ended up as genre cross-breeds - part horror, part suspense, part human drama, part spiritual, what have you. They're original, if nothing else, and they feel BIG, even if at the moment they seem to be stagnating, at least in the US market. Haven't heard much from the home front lately, such that I sometimes feel like that actor guy from the TV show Taxi always waiting for the call. Maybe what I need to do put some of the marketing back into my own hands, at least in this country. But I must be patient. For a while longer. Of course, for a writer, the only thing you can do is to keep waiting, and writing. Writing's the only therapy available sometimes. But you should write what you feel driven to write, and maybe I'm destined to write books like Solomon's Grave, Margaret's Ark, Plague of Darkness and now...
I had a couple of choices - continue tinkering with the novel version of Storm of Generations - though unique and will be a cool story, it's definitely a fringe book (more even than the above titles) which would be even harder to sell until I have an audience. I'm still jotting notes for Wails & Gnashing all the time, and laughing when I do. This one will be great fun, but a) I've got to be in a consistently great mood to write this one straight through, and a consistently great mood has been an elusive thing for me lately, and b) again this one will be a tough sell before I establish an audience first. At least, it feels that way. We'll see. As I might have mentioned before, there is one story that's been plaguing me to write it, pun intended.
The Road Less Traveled
On Wednesday at lunch, I began jotting down initial notes, character sketches and world-building for the next book: Plague of Locusts. This is a tentative title, mind you. The plot is light years (literally) from Plague of Darkness except for the title - I'd considered doing a series of unrelated books after Darkness was done loosely based on the plagues of Egypt, and I was already toying with the idea for Locust when the title hit me. The title also fits quite well with the storyline. In one lunch I wrote 2300 words of notes and thoughts, free writing ideas and slowly building a history and characters (the story takes place in the year 2163, so had to figure out how the world progressed from today to then, both physically, militarily, politically and religiously... ok, that's not the right word, but I can't spell "theologically"). Today at lunch, I finished with this exercise, and have a fairly good road map to use. Needs refining, but enough for now. Orson Scott Card, in his book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (which I highly recommend), suggests that before you write any book, but especially a science fiction novel which this will be, you need to know the world it takes place in in excruciating detail. He's right, of course, because though you may not use all the data in the story (you'd better not), you'll know the world, and it'll come out clearer to the reader and be much easier to write initially.
When I was done Wednesday (and today), I felt GREAT. The story felt great, it felt alive, and all I'd done was jot down some notes.... so, there's no sense denying it, Plague of Locusts is going to be the road I take.
I'd pretty much written all of this blog entry when I popped in to visit author Jodi Picoult's website (www.jodipicoult.com) - I'm currently listening to the unabridged recording of Vanishing Acts and really, really enjoying it. She describes her books as part romance, part courtroom drama, part thriller, and I'd say that's a pretty good description. In her Q&A page, a question is asked: What is the greatest thing you learned? Her answer hit home for me in so many ways, as you'll see when you read the answer.
She said, "Patience. I could have written a quick genre novel, or tailored my books to be more like the bestsellers that were out there... but instead I chose to write the books I wanted to write, and let readers accrue by telling their friends what they were missing. You don't have to compromise what's important to you, in order to succeed." Sage words, Jodi, and well-timed.
What does all this mean to me? I don't know. Am I stepping back or stepping forward? I don't know. Will this sell? I don't know.
Will I write it? I think so – I'm excited about it, so yes, I will write it. Will this one sell? I don't know.
Speaking of plagues... Plague of Darkness might be rearing its dirty, ugly head again - depends on what my Italian agent thinks of possible changes with it. Might need to be looked at in places, especially in the latter half. I'd prefer not to go back in there, but I will if it makes it better. You always do, if it'll make it better. The only reason I finished the rewrite in the first place is that it felt like such a waste of so much time spent on it already not to finish the rewrite. If I need to readdress parts, even rewrite complete chapters, I I'll do it. Gladly. Will it matter? Who knows.