Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Novel with a side of short stories

A while ago I talked about unearthing the treasure trove/buried nuclear waste that was some of my early short story work, and got excited at the prospect of unleashing it upon an unsuspecting editorial world. Still, I promised myself that I wouldn't tamper with these stories until after I'd finished my novel-in-progress.

But, alas... I couldn't help myself. I broke the seal, and a flood was unleashed.

Mind you, a good flood, not the kind that drowns people and leaves terrible diseases like dysentery in its wake. The kind that... well, does the opposite, I guess. Except maybe not, because pretty much all the stories I wrote when I started writing were horror. Dark, nasty, broodingly shady horror.

That's really odd, because now, most all of my fiction - besides being nearly exclusively science fiction or fantasy - is pretty optimistic. Sure, some heads get blown off, and some people drown in floods and get terrible diseases like dysentery; but generally speaking, the tone of the fiction I write these days is warm and fuzzy.

And what's even more surprising is that some of this horror is actually pretty good. One of the problems I have with my writing these days is that I can't fully get a good rise out of the emotions I'm trying to patch into my characters. But these old stories... wow! I don't know what it says about me that I'm good at conveying grief, terror, and shame; except that maybe I ought to write more characters and stories that revolve around those patently negative emotions.

Anyway, this side-jobbing hasn't gotten in the way of the novel "Remanence," since mostly I'm just dusting these stories off and sending them out. It's actually really, really fun, because I find that submissions are kind of like playing a pen-and-paper videogame (Duotrope's simple colour palette providing the framework for this conception). There's a sense of accomplishment in banging out submissions and collecting rejection slips that the long slog of a novel unfortunately cannot provide.

The real point of all this is that I'm learning that, even two years ago, I wasn't really all that awful a writer. Some of the stuff I've dusted up is pretty good. Some is a little rank, I'll admit: I started writing with the mentality that I could overtly tackle difficult philosophical subjects. In the pieces I attempt to do this, the effect is nauseating to me. But, more importantly, it's reminding me not to be afraid of my own writing.

I mean, it's pretty kickin'.

Anyway, it's more work in the mail, more rejections in my Gmail account inbox, and more experience communicating with editors and checking out cool magazines. Huzzah!


1 comment:

  1. You've got to branch out. All optimism all the time makes Jack a dull boy. Sometimes Jack has to be brutally murdered like the insignificant dog that he is.