Writing-Stuff Update

Let’s see. I’ve:

  • I completed a tiny 300-word story for the Escape Pod 300 Word Flash contest. I don’t think I really stand a chance of winning, or even placing, but it was fun and I think I’ll rework it a little to send out. The concept worked a lot better than I imagined, though I’m not sure I could sustain it successfully for even 500 more words.
  • I also (finally!) have completed a draft of what’s turned out to be another flash piece, the long-awaited “The Egan Thief”. My original plan was for it to be more like 5000 words long, but the story was a little too caged-up by the conventional approach I took to it, and got stuck at 800 words. Lately, among my Clarion West classmates, we were discussing writing challenges, and someone mentioned the symmetrina. A couple of us decided to experiment with the form, and the result of my experiment is this first draft of “The Egan Thief”. We’ll see if it remains a symmetrina. I think it could stand to be expanded a tiny bit in places, and am not necessarily married to the form. But I like how the arbitrary restrictions forced me to think and work in new ways–at least, in ways new to me.
  • I’ve received a few more rejection letters, from Analog (for my flash piece about the genetically modified American athlete in Japan), and from Horror Literature Quarterly (for my story Pahwakhe, which I’ve now re-submitted to Fantasy Magazine; if they don’t take it, it’ll be off to a Canadian mainstream lit journal that’s expressed interest, along with some of my old, unpublished verse–of which I have reams of decent stuff).
  • I now have fewer stories in circulation than before, so I need to get some revisions and rewrites done and sent out. I’m waiting for responses from: Interzone (on “Instead of Pinochets”), Asimov’s (on “Country of the Young”), Shadowed Realms (on “Junk”), Tesseracts11 (on “The Wager”), and, as mentioned above, Fantasy Magazine (on “Pahwakhe”, which I edited a bit, but didn’t follow Nick Mamatas’ feedback too closely, perhaps to my detriment, but I like the story better as it is).
  • My story “Ogallala” is ready for another pass, and then, I think, to be sent out. I’m considering Analog for the first try, and after that, well, I’ll figure it out later.
  • Next in my lineup is completing the draft of “A Killing in Burma” and the rewrite of “The Crystal Methuselah”; after that, I think I may actually work on my ghost story, “Comfort Woman” because I’ve finished a good hunk of (depressing) research on the subject and have some distance from the original, finally. After that, probably more reworking of Clarion West stories, especially the (in)famous(?) “Lester Young and the Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues”, which I really need to get done and send out sometime this year. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so slow about getting it done and sending it out is, well, a fear that… hmm. Everyone said, “This is basically the best thing you’ve done, it’s amazing, you need to send it out!” If it gets soundly rejected all over the place, I’m going to a little more frustrated than I would with other stories, y’see. So… I’ve been taking my time. But it’s like Lime commented once about my fears regarding finding a new job being unfounded, as I got two excellent offers in no time flat. I must try to be a little more confident, is what she noted, and she was right. Still, “Lester Young…” feels like my baby, and I want to be sure he’s ready to go out into the world before I push him out the door. But I’m close to getting on top of that process.
  • I’ve got a few stories that are sitting in the hopper, waiting to ferment some. “Soul Competency”, “Winter Wheat”, “Why Korean Eat Dog”, “Headspace”, “Refugee”, “Balkanized”, “Peaches and the Flower Underground”, “Distributed”, and “Rupt” are the ones I’m most interesting in working on.
  • I was thinking about digging into my novel draft, Dead Abroad, and doing a full revision this month. Since I have basically four weeks free, it’d be a good time to do it. But I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather work up several short stories. However, I think I’ve got the necessary distance from the novel draft and I might be more productive working on that.
  • I’ve got tons of books to read in order to prepare for several writing projects, one including an alternate history tied to the same world as “Lester Young…”, another a fantasy novella set a kind of steampunkish version of Korea during a kind of morphed version of Japanese occupation, a third novel idea being a novel set in an alternate China (with two plotlines, one in the present-day and one in the mid-nineteenth century), and the last being a short story about an American blackface minstrel performer who encounters… well, something quite unusual.

In other news, I’ve finished reading George Hicks’ The Comfort Women and most of Vernor Vinge’s Tatja Grimm’s World. Next is the second half of The Midnight Robber, some issues both recent and old of Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF that I’ve been meaning to catch up on (and have I mentioned that my January issue of F&SF did not arrive? And that the local bookshop through which I subscribed hasn’t responded to my query about why that happened? Argh!) and a bluster through Wendy Kaminer’s Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials. I was hoping to read a book a day for the rest of my holiday, but that was unrealistic. A book every two days is a little more possible, though still unlikely. Two to three books a week, maybe… if I throw some verse in here and there. And I have lots of verse to throw in, so… maybe. Reviews of everything recently read, seen, and listened to are, of course, forthcoming, but I think I’ll keep reviews briefer, simpler, and shorter, so I’ll have more time to focus on the writing that really counts (to me).

4 thoughts on “Writing-Stuff Update

  1. Gord you are an excellent writer. Sales are inevitable. It just takes time.

    “Lester” is a m*therf*cking awesome story.

    Sometimes, however, the special ones are a bit scary to the author. And they can be difficult to place.

    Rejection does not mean the story is not great. It just means you have not found the right market.

    Bravo on your work so far and the stories you have planned. You are working hard, and you have talent aplenty. You’re going to do well.

    I’m not the official cheerleading squad, or anything. I just tell the truth. Sometimes it’s easier for someone else to point it out.

  2. Thanks, Maura. You know how it is, when one is sending stuff out and getting back only no-thank-yous. It’s just difficult not to take it as, “I see, my stuff just isn’t that good,” when, in fact, I know it’s good enough, and getting better all the time.

    Anyway, thanks for the pep talk. It’s nice to have someone so nice around to remind me of the hopeful side of things.

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