Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finally Writing Stories I've Really Wanted To: My Serial Novella Debuting in September, and my story in "For the Night is Dark"

The final TOC has been released for Crystal Lake Publishing's first anthology, "For the Night is Dark", and I'm happy to say I'll be numbered among the fine folks listed. Very excited to see my name amongst a whole new group of people I've not previously cracked into. Like my story in the upcoming "Horror Library, Volume 5", this represents another inch up a ladder, up to another level.   Scan the names below, Google some of them, and you'll have no problem understanding why I'm eager to measure up:

Gary McMahon
William Meikle
Jasper Bark
Jeremy C. Shipp
Stephen Bacon
Armand Rosamilia
Tracie Mcbride
Robert Walker
Tonia Brown
G.n. Braun
Mark West
John Claude Smith
Blaze McRob
Joe Mynhardt
Ben Jones
Kevin Lucia
Daniel I Russell
Ray Cluley
Scott Nicholson
Carole Johnstone

Also, September will see the first installment of my serial novella, "And I Watered It, In Tears"Considering my past posts detailing how I've come around in terms of epublishing, the publication featuring it offers the best of both worlds: Digital installments in almost every kind of format imaginable, and at the end of the year, a trade paperback collection of the year's stories. Doesn't get much better, in my opinion. 

Most importantly, these stories represent a shift in my short-story writing in two ways:

1. they're much more personal than anything I've ever written
2. Their ideas came 9 months, to over a year ago...and I SAT on them

1. they're much more personal than anything I've ever written:

I've probably over-quoted this, but in an email conversation with Mort Castle (acclaimed writer and editor, one of my instructors at Borderlands Press Writers Bootcamp), discussing my work, he made this statement, which will always stay with me, and, I hope - especially concerning my short fiction - always be my guiding light:
The real stuff, the stuff that lasts...comes out of late-night conversations with your very own self  
 These stories - and the story in Horror Library, Volume Five - have come from those kinds of conversations.  They are about stuff I've thought about, inside. Some of them, my own philosophical, spiritual musings. One of them, about a deep, deep fear. And one about an abiding interest that could easily rival writing, if it ever got off the ground.  But, more so than anything else I've written, they're about me, deep inside.

And that's happened, quite frankly, because:

2. Their ideas came 9 months, to over a year ago...and I SAT on them:

The genesis of the novella came over a year ago. I first thought of the story I'm writing for "For the Night is Dark" about nine months ago.  The story in Horror Library, I re-wrote and re-wrote on my own, through one of my graduate school workshops, through Borderlands, and then I kept rewriting it, literally engaging in a "conversation with my very own self" as I wrote it.

This represents a complete shift in my approach to short stories. Ideas come to me all the time, at the most random moments.  And, I usually draw my ideas straight from life.  But, in the recent past, motivated by some early "success", I sat right down and banged those stories out.  And, even as I was achieving perhaps more and more technical proficiency, those stories lacked heart.  They  I had an idea, hatched a plot, and wrote the plot, without infusing the spirit.

Which for me, I've learned, takes time. Not necessarily time writing, but time thinking.

And thinking, thinking, thinking.

That doesn't mean that plot-oriented short stories are out for me, or are bad.  I have a nice little Lovecraftian story in the next edition of The Midnight Diner entitled "The Gate and the Way." It's a straight Lovecraftian tale. I like it.  It isn't anything more than it's meant to be. And also, that story has been re-written multiple times. Ironically enough, it's the end result of the very first short story I ever wrote, almost five years ago, now.

But what I've done this past year is two-fold: drastically widen my reading to include current horror, classic horror, gothic horror, quiet horror, westerns, mysteries, poetry, classic short stories, webcomics...and when ideas pop up, I write them down in a notebook, and leave them there.

So I can have late-night conversations about them.  So when an opportunity pops up, and one of those ideas fit, I've been mulling over it for months at a time.

Obviously, this has required a little patience. I've drastically reduced my submissions that last year and a half, because I found that, quite simply, I was encountering submission calls, dashing out stories based on those submission calls, sending them in, and when they were rejected...left with stories that would probably be ill-fits elsewhere. 

So the new goal became: to write short stories I really wanted to write, and then submit them where they fit.

And so, I've reached another milestone: I got to write a story in the novella I've wanted to write for over a year, and I'm currently writing story I've wanted to write for months.

That, quite frankly, is all kinds of awesome.