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Friday, October 30, 2015

Gearing Towards All Consuming Disenchantment!

After a full day to myself, I finished two short stories and I believe they’ll require little to no tweaking. These are likely to go into the upcoming compilation.

Also, I have been toying with a few cover elements, some of which I include here – feel free to critique, if you feel like it. None of these is likely to be the final version.

There are a couple of days left to make the choice, but I will not be participating in NaNoWriMo. I’ll be too busy trying to finish The Bloody Trail of Disenchantment, and it doesn’t technically qualify as a novel.

I can do a word count and see if I can manage 50,000 in finishing my project, but I am not sure that’s the same.

Of course, I may change my mind before Halloween or on the Day of the Dead… Who knows? Writers can be fickle.

To my friends participating this year, you know you always have my support, and anyone who wants to buddy me for the occasional sounding board and moral support, add me. Good luck!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Multitasking Should Be an Olympic Sport

Surviving months and months of famine (in the “feast or famine” proverbial way, not literally), I suddenly find myself working on three different projects and trying to put the finishing touches on the short story collection.

I can compartmentalize and prioritize to make sure my clients get exactly what they contracted me for and perhaps just a little more.

The stories, on the other hand, have surprised me. I started some stories, finished a few, and started filling out a repository for the collection. While auditing what I have so far, I've discovered that the stories skew towards men as perpetrators, when I intended the stories to be more inclusive.

It does not point to men being the only creatures who commit adultery, it just seems as if those stories were easier to write. (Especially because I may have been familiar with one or two of the plotlines exposed.)
There is a danger of overexposing yourself when you commit memories your fiction, to come off a lot more naked than you ever intended, but the truth is that you are even in the more fantastical details of steampunk. Just as well, you want to protect the people whose tragedies you may be relating. The ones in the stories that are auto- or semi-biographical are all dead or unlikely to ever realize it's all about them. Mostly, what I want, is for these to get lost in the collection and appear as fictional but realistic pieces of the life inside the world in the pages of the book.

If I am to keep to my self-imposed production schedule, I need to make an editorial decision. I can keep the stories I have and make it a specialized volume -- A Guide to Post-Modern Lotharios -- and extend it to a two-volume project with the promise of more to come. Alternatively, I can try to finish and polish two or three stories that will achieve the original goal and keep it to a one volume.

Then it occurred to me that there really is no reason I need to limit myself. I can try to polish some of the stories I have not finished yet, but if they remain too rough for publication, I can release them later in another anthology (like a three-novella book, for instance).

It also occurred to me that I could try something different and include profiles, as I started for the FB page, almost as interstitials.

Of course, I need to finish something and release it! There is plenty of work to be done.

The house is starting to smell like a tiny bakery, with the Halloween cookie production already in motion. If that doesn’t awaken the Muse of Setting Fires Under One’s Ass, I don’t know what will!

But before I can fully tackle my adulterers, I have book covers to manipulate and convert, manuscripts to format, and proofreading to perform…

Right now, life is both a sprint and a marathon. Multitasking should be an Olympic sport!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Treating Setting as a Thing

It’s October and NaNoWriMo is barreling towards us at increasing speed. I am not at all sure that I will participate this year, though it seems to me that I need to – if only to focus my efforts.

In fact, one of the stories started as NaNoWriMo sits untouched because after some time it became clear that it was derivative without any good twists to make it truly a gem. It can remain in the dark until I can salvage it (from itself or for parts, as the case may be). I’d rather not publish than release subpar material.

To me, this is not a failure so much as a reason to try something else creatively. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself and the story ought to be told as a fantastic ridiculous little tale meant to amuse and nothing else.

I have produced less this year than I intended. I did publish The Mistress, and have been writing a collection of stories (Bloody Trail of Disenchantment). The plan is still to have it on sale for the holidays.

One of the stories seems to have escaped me. The moment I felt it coming on, I should have just started it. I took notes on the setting and a passage I wanted to see in the story (all setting, nothing plot-related). I lost the feel of the characters because I no longer understand the motivation of one or the reactions of the other.

And while I am saddened by the probable loss of what may have been a fantastic tale, I would like to advocate writing scenes where the object is nothing more than to preserve scenery.

Setting defines a place, but it also helps with mood and ambiance; and sometimes it becomes part of the story, as an additional character in the story (that is one strong and enduring place!).
What I am advocating is writing observations about places, lyrical and clinical alike, with or without characters (they are not what's important in this exercise). Keep these notes in a drawer – or a database, thumb drive or sticky notes. Preserve the scene like some omniscient CSI... 'cause setting is a thing.

Even if you are not dedicated to a story, a novel, or any one specific project, you are still writing.

More importantly, these seemingly throwaway scenes can become part of your writing later. Reading through your own writing, even if it belongs to no particular story will help you brainstorm with yourself – try to ascribe story to setting, if all other inspiration fails you.

Not everything that you write will be golden, but it shouldn’t stop you from writing. Think of it as exercising that part of your brain that sees these stories before the rest of your brain lets you in on it.

There is an upcoming interview that may bring the story back in some other guise. There’s research to do, songs to sing and poems to write. I may have slowed a little, but I ain’t done… There’s plenty of story left in me. And come Black Friday, there will be a few cheaters between the sheets (for the paperback at least). 

So back to work, I have stories to write and a cover to design!