Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Mad Science: Giving Myself a Deadline

I mentioned yesterday that I’m trying to put out a book some time next year.  That’s not supposed some huge secret, but in case you don’t follow the blog every day, yeah, it’s true, and it’s been a major focus for my writing lately.  The book is gonna be a set of fantasy short stories, tentatively titled “Tales for the Lair” or maybe “Tales from the City of Wanderhaven”.  I’m not quite sure, yet, but it'll be something like that.  I think.
I’ve wanted to do a project like this for years, but I realized that the time had finally come a little over a month ago.  Two things went into the realization.  First, I’ve known for a while that I’m a decent writer.  But I feel about my writing much the same way that I feel about being a triathlete.  I know that I’m better than the average Joe, but that doesn’t mean that I’m particularly close to being good enough to do it for a living.  That said, I feel like my writing has taken a big step forward this year.  The stuff I’ve given out recently has mostly gotten responses along the lines of, “Holy shit! I can’t believe how good this is,” and frankly, given how crowded the marketplace is for fiction, that’s where I think a writer needs to be in order to have even half a chance.  I’ve worked hard at becoming a better writer for a good, long while now, but it's also been important to try to be self-critical and to try to hold my work to the same high standards to which I hold other writers.  This year, I feel like I’m finally reaching an acceptable, marketable standard, and so I’m finally ready to give this publishing thing a try.

I hope that's not misplace, myopic pride

The second part of this has to do with the stories themselves.  I write a lot for my kids, mostly because they’re an appreciative audience.  I wrote “Sneax and Elaina Emboo vs. the Fire Elf” for them last Christmas and then started on the sequel a couple of months ago, maybe six weeks before Hannah’s tenth birthday.  But that story went longer than I thought it was gonna go, and as I got into the later parts of it, I realized that the story itself is Act Two of a Three Act Play.  That Three Act Play is gonna wind up being something like 65,000 words or so—just long enough to be either a very short full-length novel or a very long novella.  

Now, I could try to flesh those stories out and string them together as a single, full-length work, and that might  make the work a little more commercially viable, but frankly, I don't want to do that.  Because the stories as they exist now are already the perfect length for my kids, and also because the idea of adding filler just to bring up the word count is not one that I'm ready to endorse.  Moreover, I think that the stories in their current form will make an excellent backbone for a short collection, so bottom line, that's the plan we're gonna do.  Still, I’m hoping to tie everything together a bit in the course of my re-writing.  By the time it's done, hopefully the finished product will be a coherent whole, albeit not one with a single set of characters or central plotline.
For those who’re super-familiar with my work, the finished collection ought to look something like this:
  • Sneax and Elaina Emboo vs. the Fire Elf
  • Trial of the War Master: The Caravan
  • The Legend of Tolandias
  • Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki
  • The Sky Priest’s Wife (formerly, “The Stone Priest’s Wife”)
  • The Legend of the Five Brothers
  • Sneax and Elaina Emboo in the Fire Islands (tentative title)

I started re-writing some of the older stories this week and hope to send out a final draft of “Trial of the War Master” to a few test-readers during the coming weekend.  It's the oldest of the stories, and I'm a little worried because my style has changed quite a bit over the years, and it's making me nervous to think that maybe that older style won't hold up.  After that, I’ve got to finish drafting “Sneax and the Priest of Loki,” let it age a bit, plan out “The Fire Islands,” and basically get the rest of the book together as soon as I can.  
Like I said, I’m hoping to have it all together by next fall.  I suppose there aren't any hard and fast deadlines, but that's still gonna be one of my big goals for 2014.  

We’ll see how it goes.

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