Monday, August 10, 2009

Update On My Writing.

A little under six months ago, I wrote here about two of my short stories being published, and how I'd planned on submitting more stuff before the end of the year.

Fast forward to now, and I'm afraid I've been slacking off from that plan. Instead of polishing already existing works and sending those out, I went ahead and wrote 5 brand new stories.

But now the time has come for me to put a stop to the new stuff and focus on what's already been written. I mentioned in the linked entry above that I wanted to sell a few more stories before next year, but since it is already August, I'm afraid this won't be happening. Even if one of these 5 new stories get picked up, chances are it won't see publication until next year.

Ah, such is life in the publishing world.

However, I have spent the weekend tweaking and polishing one of the five, and am now working on the second. Since I like to send stories out in batches to various publishers, I'm waiting until the 4th story before I start e-mailing or dropping manuscripts in the mail. Before all that, though, I have to do some research to see which markets are open to the types of stories I've written.

It's a process, but one which I've done before and so I'm not as anxious as the very first time. And although I'm burning up with ideas for other short stories, I might just take a little hiatus to get my bearings and re-think my writing approach.

What I mean is, I need to figure out why my stories don't sell. Actually, the real question is: why is it that the finished products almost never resemble my original intent in terms of theme and even (scarily) plot? Somewhere along the way I always seem to loose the guiding light that got me excited to start said tale in the first place.

Very strange, and will require more navel-gazing on my part.

In the meantime, I've been toying with the idea of starting a novel. This would be my very first attempt, as I've never had the audacity before to think I was ready to write anything longer than a novelette.

To be fair, this won't be a "true" novel. I see it more as a practice mission. I have good ideas for novels, but the problem is I'm not experienced enough to write them yet. And, the way I figure it: why waste my good ideas on shoddy writing?

So, the remedy I hit on is to do a mock novel. A brief book of around 60,000 words that will be more a practice run in terms of plotting, blocking, research, and flow. I'm basing it on an old-school Nintendo video game that shall remain nameless at the moment. The reason being is that I already know the story and general background details, and will thus be able to focus on the mechanics of actually churning a novel out. Because of copyright issues the novel won't ever see the light of day. Or, rather, I should say it won't ever be sold, or published, or have money made off of it in any way.

Which is fine by me. This is all just an exercise. I need to see how it feels to write a much longer work than what I've been doing thus far. True, if you took every short story I've written and combined them, the total word count would comfortably fill up two novels, if not more. But this is different. This is a single cohesive work that requires proper pacing and plotting, among other elements. While there will certainly be a level of frustration in knowing that what I'm writing will never see recognition, at least I'll gain valuable experience that should help when I start a "real" novel eventually.

And, because this is me, I plan to expand the source material and add a lot more nuance and humanity to the story than what the game offers. Games from back in the day were rather anemic in this department, which is great for me! It means I can have some fun with the characters while still adhering to the game script. When you think about it, this might just be a fun experiment after all.

I'm only in the beginning stages of the research for this project, but will be working on it in my head for the next few weeks. Maybe I'll write another short story or two in the meantime, but that's not a promise. If I do continue with this project, it will most likely start at the end of September or the beginning of October.

So, there you have it. 5 recent short stories being polished right now to eventually send out to magazines (both online and off); and 1 pseudo-novel being worked on in the wings.

Little by little, I'm making progress on this writing career thing. :)

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