I’m working on a couple of novels at the moment, but, well… I should actually say, I’d been working on a couple of novels lately. Around Christmas or so, I got stalled on both, and stopped making forward progress. I couldn’t figure out why, so I took some time off and worked on shorter stories, and on getting some of my short stories sent out. (I have a large stock of finished/polished-up short stories I need to send out, but always seem to procrastinate about actually sending them anywhere.) But soon, stuck turned into stalled, turned into Steam.
Anyway, Mrs. Jiwaku very generously spent some time talking with me about one of the novels and why I was stuck on it the other day, and made a single, simple suggestion to try something that I’d considered but was hesitant to actually do. (Sort of, being too nice to my characters. Sort of.) Et, voilá! The road ahead for that story seems clear.
Only problem is, I’m still a bit out of my groove: it’s been a while now, and the short fiction hasn’t really helped me maintain any kind of rhythm with things. My solution? I’m going to press on with one short story I have just started, and get that done and sent out before I return to the novel. I can’t help but write it, the concept has been kicking around for a while, and I had a few good ideas, to which a friend’s riff on the concept (thanks, Joe!) finally made the project irresistible for me.
“Post-Apocalyptic Steampunk Manchurian Western” is the concept. ( Yes, “Manchuria Westerns” is a thing: they’re basically Korea’s 1960s and 1970s answer to spaghetti Westerns, crammed with taekwondo and anti-colonial sentiments and set in… well, you know where, and you can guess when.)
Then mash that together with Ocean’s Eleven (or, say, a horse-rustlin’ version of Gone in Sixty Seconds), and drop all that in a world halfway between the lawless borderlands of Manchuria in 1901 and a Steampunk version of The Road. And that’s just the backdrop… the cast of characters is seriously bananas.
Which is to say, I’m having fun… but also taking time off Facebook as much as possible till it’s done, and hoping this short story helps me regain the momentum I’ve lost so I can get back into the novel, and get it on track again.