I’ve come to a decision about Slipwater. I am giving myself until my birthday next year – that’s May 7, 2021 – to find traction with a professional agent or publisher. If I still have made no headway by that time I’m going to self-publish the novel.
I know, I have always been opposed to going down that route. It’s the easy way, right? Any idiot can do that. There are no checks at any point in the process, and certainly nobody to tap you on the shoulder to tell you what you’ve written is trash.
Yeah, I know.
But I wrote the novel for a reason, and it’s good. I believe in it, and I want others to have the chance to read it, and if I have to swallow my pride and do what I swore I never would… then so be it.
Of course, I would much prefer to do this the traditional, tried and tested way, so if anybody in the business is reading this, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.
In other news I wrote a dark flash piece called I Am the Cheese. It’s something I put together very quickly – in about an hour actually – that isn’t particularly polished, but has potential down the line once I give myself the room to mess around with it.
I have sent off a few pieces to contests this month. I was going to give myself a budget each month for this, to get me in the habit of sending stuff away, so that may be an idea I can run with. I’ll have to see how it shakes out.
I used to print out my stories as I finished them but somewhere along the line I stopped, and as a result the only hard copies I have of my work exists in the magazines and books that I have via their publication.
At least, that was until this week…
I decided that I wanted to have everything there in front of me, filed away on paper. Yeah, it’s a little old fashioned, but there is something satisfying about stories on the page, as opposed to double-clicking a word document. It also means I don’t have to boot up my laptop to look at something I’ve written.
So, I bought a couple of ink cartridges, a heap of plastic pockets, a few lever-arch ring binders, and a shit-ton of paper, and started the process.
And it’s a long process.
I am working back in time and have gone through two cartridges of ink already, which has only got me the last seven years of work… so I’m going to need another trip to the supermarket soon.
But it’s nice to have a physical record of what I’ve been doing. On that note, I discovered that I was missing a first draft of a story I wrote in 2013. Can’t find it anywhere. Fortunately, I have the redraft stored (and now printed), so all was not lost.
We’re now into the final third of the year, and it’s about this time on the calendar that I begin to reflect on what I’ve done since this twelve month period began…
… but it makes for a depressing read, so I’ll leave that alone for a while.
I spent one afternoon this week sending stories out for (potential) publication. And while it’s true that one of them came back as a rejection before I had even finished up for the day, I still see every attempt to get my work out there as a positive one.
I never send a story out into the wild just to make up the numbers, because the only person who is really interested in those numbers is me. So, on the other end, when that response comes in, I’m always hopeful for good news, no matter how long it’s been since I’ve had an acceptance. And yes, it has been a while.
My standards are (admittedly) quite high and, although my recent output probably doesn’t justify that bar, I have had many pieces published in non-paying markets over the years, and I think I deserve to be a little further along the food chain by now. As a result I have neglected to even look at a lot of markets that may want to carry my stuff simply because they aren’t going to pay me. Occasionally there is a non-paying market that grabs my attention, but not very often.
Anyway, I’m going to have a soft reboot of my writing to give things a shake-up. I was going to wait until the turn of the year, but that is such an arbitrary time for resolutions, so I’m just going to do it now instead.
I don’t exactly know what I mean by that, or how this soft reboot is going to manifest itself, but I am going to do something.
I have never really had a writing routine. It’s just not the kind of thing I have ever been able to pigeon-hole into a specific window. It’s a good idea, and certainly I’d like to be able to frame my writing in that manner – for consistency, if nothing else – but I have always taken a more adhoc approach to my words.
I think my early resolution for 2020 is to manufacture some time when I can actually sit down and do my stuff regularly, because at the moment I’m all over the place and nothing is really getting done. Definitely not as much as there should be.
When I do write, it’s often pretty good, but I’m just not happy with the volume of the output.
And that has to change.
Well, I’ve certainly not done much actual writing, but I knew that would be the case.
I sent off a batch of stories to various publications this week. It’s mostly unpublished work, but there were a few reprint opportunities in there too.
Every time I do so I feel positive about the outcome, although recent results don’t give me reason to be. I don’t know if the short fiction market has changed recently – I don’t think it has to any great degree – or if my standards are just higher these days.
Maybe my writing is just not up to par anymore, but even that distinct possibility is hard to accept because so much of what I’m sending off was written years ago, at a time when my stuff was being accepted on a fairly regular basis.
Or maybe I’ve just been unlucky.
I finally managed to finish a story! Granted, it’s not a new one, but it is the first thing I have completed in 2019.
Jigsaw is an old piece of fantasy fiction. I wrote the first version of it in 2000, left it for almost the entire decade, then redrafted it in 2009. That iteration was much shorter, but a lot cleaner and tighter as a result.
I didn’t really think I would ever go back to it, but I had an unfinished attempt sitting on my laptop that I decided to throw myself into… and so, almost twenty years after the story was written the first time, I have fine-tuned it again.
Although it still comes in shorter than the original text, I have added a sizeable chunk of words, bringing it in longer than the last time I looked at it.
It’s a good story: maybe this version will make the editors smile.
A fast-paced police thriller at its core, with science fiction undertones, Slipwater is above all else, a tale of love lost, and hope regained. It is the story of one man’s blind desire to chase the second chance at the life he saw ripped away, no matter what the cost; and of his best friend’s quest to stop him.
That is part of the synopsis for Slipwater that I have sent off to five agencies over the last few days, along with either the first three chapters or the opening 10,000 words.
Agencies (and publishers, should you choose to go to them directly) dont want the entire manuscript, and that’s fair enough. I’m sure you know if you’re enjoying a book before reaching the end, and similarly, they don’t need to read every word you have written to know if it’s any good. What they ask for does however seem like a narrow window: a lot of stories are only just taking the training wheels off at that point. But, this is not my game, and these are their rules.
The girlfriend is currently reading it as well. She says she is enjoying it, but then again… she has a dog in this race, so it will be difficult for her to be completely blunt and honest. Hopefully there are no glaring plot holes or silly continuity errors that I inexplicably missed in all my edits – and I don’t think there are – but however she responds to it, it will be good to hear the opinion of someone who doesn’t know what is coming next.