Friday, May 06, 2011

Reaching, Searching

I recently made a return to short stories after being away from it for a number of years. This was the form I started out in, when I was young and didn't have the attention span, or, put another way, enough words in me. I used to struggle to fill a page. I'd get to the bottom and say, "Well, that's enough, isn't it?" and the answer was yes and that was the end. After a while, though, the answer was no, and I moved on to a second page, which I'd have a hard time filling.

My breakthrough came with A Chemical Fire, my first novel which took a few years to finish and came in at just over 50,000 words, a length, I should add, which some publishers don't accept as long enough for a novel. It's short, to be sure, but as you can imagine someone who once had a hard time filling a page might say, I do believe in brevity.

From there I moved directly into writing a second book, The Scapegoatist. Though I had some issues with it and ultimately had to put it in the drawer until I'm ready to dissect and sew it back together, hence its invisible status, that book took about a year to finish and came in at 80,000 words. An improvement in production, if not success.

Then I started a science fiction book, which I'm not ready to reveal the name of, that wasn't ready to be written and told me so. A false-start, but not an end.

At this point I wasn't sure whether to attempt a restart of that book or move onto another project I'm planning, which I've referenced and which involves "A Good Clean, A Harsh Clean", a short story I wrote to pass the time while I shuffled my feet about what to do. Just then, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, came along and offered me a challenge while I made my decision: write a novel in a month. I did, completing 50,000 words in a month, then adding another 11,000 the next to finish the thing.

Still being not sure where to move next, or being sure but reluctant to begin, was what brought me back to short stories. "An anthology," I thought. Write some new stories. Collect some old favorites and give them solid edits and rewrites. I went back and forth on this, even, wondering if I should alter older work or leave them as time capsules, until I compared it to a remastered re-release of an album, like Nine Inch Nails recently did with Pretty Hate Machine, and that seemed to warm me up to the idea.

I wrote "The Mountain and The City", an apocalyptic tale, pretty quickly and very much enjoyed it, even got good reactions to it. Then I moved onto another story, science fiction also, and to my surprise found it growing bigger and bigger until I realized I may have a novella on my hands. Who knew? Not me, and that's the beauty of this thing; the not knowing, the discovering, the sharing of unexpected turnouts. Now my anthology will include a novella, it seems. Who knew.

Before that happens, though, I've been thinking about sharing it in some unique way, something different. I like the idea of broadcasting works through Twitter, as some writers have done, but that wouldn't be fitting for this story. It would be too drawn out, as i think it would be better to write with that kind of sharing in mind. Maybe I'll do that some day. With social networks, blogs, websites, image sharing sites and so on I feel there's something I can do that would be interesting to watch and follow, but like so many other things it's just kicking around right now, shuffling feet, back and forth, through my head, my hands, my heart. If you have an idea, I'm here to hear it. Comment. Post. Speak. I'm here to hear it.


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Unknown said...

Happy to see another author's perspective on finding words. I thought I had writer's block before I'd even begun - well maybe just a small writer's block. Stick with it! Thanks.

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