Rico is drunk more often than he isn’t, and he usually clutches a half-bottle of cheap supermarket vodka to his chest like he is nursing a child. It’s one of those brands that is more petrol than alcohol. Occasionally, when he thinks nobody is watching, he will take a swig. Like anyone really gives a shit. Charlie lets him ride for free as long as he keeps his slurred and salacious comments to himself which – to his credit and my surprise – he usually does.
That’s near the beginning of Flowers For Someone Else, and I probably won’t be changing it. I like it. It’s got a sustainable rhythm, although I’m not even sure what I mean by that. Sometimes, the magic of writing is in how it sounds: how it feels when you read it back. You can’t point it out, and you can’t pin it down. It’s just… right.
Yeah, I know. It all sounds like self-congratulatory bullshit. And to some degree it probably is, because writing can be a very lonely and insulated endeavour. You may go for long stretches when you are the only one who will be saying nice things about your words, so patting yourself on the back from time to time for a job well done is no bad thing.
The story isn’t finished yet, but it’s getting there. And when it’s done, it’s gonna be good.
I have chosen my poison: I am going to leave all my other unfinished projects on the sidelines for the time being and throw myself into my suspense tale, Flowers for Someone Else.
This will likely be my written project for the foreseeable future – until I get sidetracked, of course – and it will possibly see me though until we go away on our theme park trip in the middle of July… although I hope to have it cracked by then.
I have got a very robust foundation here, and it is just as likely that I will find the finish line in a few days as it is to elude me for a few weeks. It’s difficult to tell. I know the destination; it’s just getting there with intelligence and sophistication that presents the hurdles.
I have over 1000 words (most of which are even pretty good), and it feels like the kind of story that really should not go on much beyond double that length. These kind of pieces are delicate acts of balance, and the longer they go on the more you’re fighting that pesky law of diminishing returns.
I have four new stories in progress that I would like to knock out this year, all of which I have mentioned here at one time or another. If I manage to finish all four I’ll be very happy, but I’ll probably settle for any two.
I last mentioned Scream, Pause, Play here in March, and it is perhaps the darkest and most ambitious of the items I have on my books. Although I have only written 600 words, it’s fairly well mapped out. I just have to put it all together.
Flowers for Someone Else (yes, it’s a new title) was coming along quite well in the early part of the year, but I set it aside in April when Jack and his buddy Patrick kept vying for my attention. It is sitting at 900 words, and I would say it is the most likely to see completion first.
Talking in the Fourth has also been absent from my playlist since March. This really started life as a throwaway couple of sentences that I didn’t have a place for. Sometimes that’s how a story comes together. Now I have over 1000 words and a good idea to back it up.
The 07:43 to Blackford Station has been MIA since February. It’s hovering just under 4000 words, which is quite deep into it for me not to have just knuckled down and figured the rest of it out. But I don’t think it’s there yet, and in a way, it still has the furthest to go before it sees the finish line. I may still have this one lurking when 2020 rolls in.
It’s certainly nice to have options.
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.
Well, as predicted (albeit a little later than I had anticipated), my eighth and latest Jack and Patrick tale is done. A Rabbit, a Fairy, and a Fat Man in a Red Suit is 2,100 words and is about a few of those childhood tent poles that are so familiar in the western world.
It’s another fun conversation between those kids, and there’s still a lot of life left in their relationship. I have some other ideas for them, but I’ll put their next adventure on hold for a while.
I want to take a couple of days to get a few submissions out there. And when I say ‘a few’ I really mean ‘a shitload’, because editors are not going to publish my work if they don’t see it in their inbox.
And after that… Lord knows, I have a load of other stories to be getting on with.
I’ve been working on my latest installment in the Jack & Patrick franchise, a Christmas story which at the moment I am calling, The Fat Man in the Red Suit.
It’s just so damn easy to write. I don’t mean that the art of writing itself is simple – because it most certainly is not – but that my familiarity with these two characters after so many words together makes the process of building a story for them a joy, even when I don’t know the ultimate goal. I’m just having fun getting there.
At this rate, I should be finished the eighth episode in my Jack & Patrick Universe in the not too distant future.
Sure, it doesn’t have the box office appeal of the MCU, but there may be some legs in the JPU yet.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had been brainstorming ideas for some new Jack & Patrick adventures. Seasonally inaccurate, I know, but one of those ideas is a Christmas story.
I started putting it together this week and got into it a little deeper than I had expected, so I now have a good chunk of the dialogue to work with. Although I do have other Jack & Patrick pieces in development, this will likely end up being the next – the eighth one – in the series.
I plan to send my novel Slipwater off to a few more agencies this week, because I’ve had a couple come back lately with a negative. Disheartening, sure, but writers are more familiar with rejection than most, and there’s always a contingency plan.
Besides, it’s their loss, because that story is money for the editor who is able to spot its potential.