I’ve been updating my LiveJournal account regularly with what’s going on with my writing, but I haven’t been updating over here, and I know that there are people who read this blog but not my LiveJournal. So to help clarify things for my LiveJournal readers, my blog readers, and me, here is what’s going on lately with my writing.
- First of all, my NaNoWriMo novel, Fred, Again, is going along very well. Out of 50,000 words, I’ve written about 38,000. Only 12,000 to read the official NaNoWriMo target, and possibly 10,000 or so after that to reach the end of that story. I’m considering what I’m writing right now to be the rough draft for an actual novel, and it’s the first time I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo where I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the novel all the way through, without getting fed up with the story and the plot and so on. More on that in a bit
- And speaking of NaNoWriMo, there was an article in yesterday’s Vacaville Reporter about local participants in NaNoWriMo, featuring humble ol’ me. There’s even a picture of me. I’ve written to the reporter and asked if I could use the photograph on my person website, and was told to “go for it”, since it would be considered fair use and the photographer in question has no qualms with it. Check out the article here.
- A couple of weeks ago I sold my short story, “Who Remembers Molly”, to The Harrow. This is a pretty significant milestone for me, because it’s the first “serious” story I’ve sold, and the first of my “Mollyverse” stories. On the other hand, the timing is a bit ironic, since I’m on the cusp of changing my writing focus entirely. Again, more on this in a bit.
- Yesterday, I also received an e-mail from the editor of an upcoming anthology focusing on retellings of urban legends, asking if I would consider offering them “Who Remembers Molly”. Naturally, I said “Yes!” after first clarifying all the contract issues with the editor and with The Harrow. You know, I’d never thought I’d have to face that kind of quandary. It was frustrating in its way, but also really, really cool. And this makes my fourth acceptance this year, which makes five overall, which, to me, means my writing career is really starting to take off.
- Oh, I also got a rejection from Flesh & Blood for my story “Indications”. No hard feelings on this one, of course; the style wasn’t a match for the magazine. And in light of the four milestones above, this one rejection just pales in importance to me.
This is my fourth year doing NaNoWriMo; I did it the first time in 2001, skipped 2002, and then I’ve been doing it ever since. Each year, I’ve reached 50,000 words. I’m told that there’s a “second week hump” which is part of the process; during the second week of NaNoWriMo, apparently most participants lose their drive, their energy, their love of the project, and find that writing is much more of a chore than ever. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever experienced this. Sure I have my lulls, but I’ve never had a problem just charging on through. I hadn’t even heard of the “second week hump” until 2004, when everyone I knew was talking about how awful it was, and I found I couldn’t relate.
That isn’t to say I was enjoying everything every step of the way. I remember really enjoying writing Unfallen, my 2001 project; however, The Road to Gilead was rarely much fun, and last year’s The Outer Darkness was mostly just misery. I take out Unfallen and The Road to Gilead every few months or so, renew my resolve to sit down and finish them and make them publishable, write a few hundred words, them thrust them back into a drawer for another few months. The Outer Darkness, I think, will languish permanently in a forgotten corner of my hard drive, never to know the touch of a red pen. I liked the characters and the setting and the plot, but not enough to ever want to revisit them again.
This year’s project, Fred, Again, though, is different. I started at midnight on November first, with no idea of what I was going to write, who the characters were going to be, or what the plot was going to be. I had a title, though; I’d put out a call to all my friends on LiveJournal and in the real world asking for title suggestions, and said that the person whose suggestion I liked the most would get to be killed in the manner of their choosing. I got so many great suggestions, though, that choosing just one was impossible. I chose Fred, Again as the title, and killed off that friend in the first chapter and made her an important plot point. For each subsequent chapter, I’ve been using one of the title suggestions, and killing off the person who suggested the title in that chapter in a manner they choose. Actually, it’s been great fun, and apparently my friends have enjoyed their virtual deaths, even the one who got tossed into a wood chipper.
I have weird friends. Go figure. I love them.
Anyway, I love writing Fred, Again, and I would even if I didn’t get to kill of people I know while writing it. I can’t wait to finish it, and then to start revising it. Rationally, I know that the thing to do is to finish it and then set it aside until NaNoEdMo, but there’s a part of me that’s just quivering with the need to finish and revise. And this leads me to a bit of a quandary.
See, Fred, Again, while containing elements of horror, is primarily a work of comedic fiction, and apparently a pretty funny one. And several people have told me that my humor and comedy fiction are actually much better than my serious horror. However, the serious horror is what I’ve considered my “real” writing. On the other hand, I really am enjoying writing Fred, Again, and the process of writing it has sparked ideas for other novels in the same vein and even for comic fantasy stories, and I’m finding that I’m much more eager to write those — kind of chomping at the bit, really — than, say, complete the second draft of “Hollow”, a horror story which I think has potential but which has felt more like an albatross in many ways than a creative gem.
God help me, I wonder if I’m destined to write comic fantasy and horror? Are novels like Fred, Again and stories like “An Interrupted Nap” going to be my forte rather than hard core works like The Road to Gilead or “Hollow”?
I still have fun with my “Mollyverse” stories, though, like “Burying Uncle Albert” and “The Winds of Patwin County”, though I think they could be… funnier.
There, I said it.
I’ve been taking this writing thing far more seriously over the past year (well, actually, sixteen months) than I have over the rest of my life, and it’s been paying off in terms of acceptances and editorial interest. I suppose a shift in writing focus was inevitable.
So, I suppose, break out the funny hats and the clown feet. After Fred, Again, Cthulhu has a date with the Capulets and the Montagues.