This week I wrote the first new material for The Ballad of Martha Brody that I have done in years. It’s not much, and it was more than a little spontaneous, but it does mean the story is on my mind.
At the start of the year I mentioned that I was considering going back to this story, and I was… but since that time other pieces have taken precedence. Now I’m ready to – at the very least – include it in my rotation of stories.
The first thing I have to do is find a place within the narrative for the orphaned chapter I wrote some time ago, since the last draft was finished in 2013. After that I need to figure out if this thing can be stretched to a novel (without compromising the story I’m telling), or if it should remain in that literary wasteland where all the other novellas reside.
I’ve been thinking of going back to my racially charged novella, The Ballad of Martha Brody. It’s a story that had its start in life when I was eighteen and living in Malta, as a 4000 word piece called Talk is Cheap. A couple of iterations and a couple of decades later, and it now weighs in at almost 22,000 words – spiritually the same story written by that clumsy teenager, but practically something with much more depth.
Some time after I had completed it in 2013 – although every writer knows that a story is never truly complete – I wrote another chapter for it. Although it slips in to the narrative quite well it has sat, orphaned, on my laptop for a few years, not really a part of the larger arc. I think I’m just about ready to sew it all together and finally make a concerted effort to see it published, as I do believe it’s one of the best things I’ve produced.
Of course the novella is the bastard child of literature: there are very few places that take them in, and even fewer that are worth bothering with. It is for that reason that I toyed with the idea of turning it into a novel for several months, but I don’t really think it would have the legs for that commitment.
Having said that, in the publishing world a mediocre novel stands a better chance of success than a great novella… so there is that.
Despite everything – and somewhat ironically – writing-wise, 2012 was a good year for me. I completed an overhaul of my Deep South drama novella, The Ballad of Martha Brody; I finished the revision of my horror novelette, Replay (which is to be published early this year by Dark Prints Press); and in the dying moments of the year I even managed to close the door on the redraft of Bleeding Outside the Lines – possibly my most ambitious short horror story to date.
And that novel is edging ever closer to the finish line too… So yeah, all things considered, not too bad. Fingers crossed for 2013.
Happy New Year, folks! I hope all your dreams come true – even the silly ones that only you believe – and those resolutions to stop smoking, lose weight, get fitter, and be nicer, go unbroken.