Those of you paying attention to my progress bar might note a new project, in addition to all those that have been sitting almost-inert for weeks now. It’s titled “Ogallala”, and it’s a short story that I’m writing specifically to submit to the next edition of Tesseracts, which is being edited by Cory Doctorow and Holly Phillips this time around. I know there are better-paying markets, but I would just be happy to get onto a masthead with Cory, whose work I very much enjoy and respect, and it’d be cool to end up in a Canadian anthology.

(No diss to Holly, I’ve just never read her stuff.)

Now, I very often write stuff that’s way too long for this kind of anthology (or most markets), so I’ve given myself a few goals for this story:

  • Limitations of Space and Time: I’m not sure I can achieve total unity of space and time, but this is going to happen in a single day, and it’s going to happen in basically one place — well, one region, anyway. Along the path of one ship.
  • Thematic Limitations: There are a whole mess of themes that can be raised by the stuff I’m digging around with in this story, and I will permit myself little salutes to them as I pass… but I will not explore them all.
  • A Small Cast: There will only be five or six characters in this story, and only one major character who will explore the conundrum. Period.
  • The Shattering-of-Familiar-Politics Effect: This story must not fall on one side or another side of any established, contemporary-to-the-reader political debate. Rather, the politics in the story can extend from this but by the setting must shatter the dichotomies and all contemporarily reasonable solutions. Because I love when other writers do that to my mind, and because it’ll make the story more interesting that way.
  • Referentiality for my Audience: I must work in at least three consistent, yet not-story-marring Canadian pop cultural reference. I’ve got enough of The Beachcombers in already, so that’s one down and two to go.

Once I finish this and send it off in search of criticisms, I’ll probably return to revising something else… maybe my superheroes-in-Northeast-Asia story, or maybe that long-awaited revision of the ghost story I set in Korea, “Comfort Woman”. The Tesseracts deadline is six weeks away, so I can afford to get some feedback before sending it out.

UPDATE (6:30pm): At the end of today’s drafting session, I’m at roughly 1400 words. I’m hoping to have this baby out by the end of the weekend, which is totally doable. Got about 80% of the remaining story in my head, it’s only thr very ending I need to get clear, but already, a number of sudden mistypes and sudden thoughts have changed the direction of the story in fascinating and somewhat (to me) disturbing ways. Am excited, especially to be working on something so short, yet having it actually work at this length. That’s Very Cool.

UPDATE (1:30pm next day): I won’t be getting much done today, as I have an appointment in Seoul this afternoon with an ex-student and old friend, but hunks more of the story are coming clear, and I think I have about 95% of what’s going to happen in my head. A horrible working title I would have happened upon at this point, if the story weren’t already titled “Ogallala”, is “Benito Pykreteno“. And I’m considering renaming Captain Lavalée as Captain Deslaineaux, just for the gaggy reference.

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