Journal, February 22nd

It’s Monday. A calmer weekend has passed, with no all-encompassing plans. We watched both Bridge of Spies and the laugh-riot that was Deadpool. If you can stomach slightly over the top violence, catch it– it’s as hilarious as people say. I also finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows wrapping the series which, yes, I had never read before.

On the writer’s front, I have a manuscript that’s about 90% complete, over 7,500 words. The story kept growing, as the spy games and world building became more interesting and worth telling. This new piece is being crafted alongside another that Andrew is composing, as part of an ongoing challenge between us to try and submit to short story openings together. Our stories will be loosely connected yet independent enough of one another to stand alone if only one of us makes it.

Paired writing is something I really enjoy when teamed writers are on the same page. My experiences on fan fiction boards of the past tended to be somewhat… flaky, about this. But Andrew is a fantastic partner with regard to dependency and punctuality.

The challenge is also important to me; I’ve noticed that there’s a huge gap in my publishing schedules fast approaching. Fox Spirit’s recent releases have left only two short stories in my “soon to be published” queue, due to a combination of larger works (a novel and a few novellas) and a few rejected or unfinished manuscripts. Although I’m glad for larger works going on, I’m making an effort to keep smaller pieces in circulation.

Next month marks four years since my first paid piece was published. Four years of trying to expand the bibliography, trying to move up and on to do more as a writer. Despite a major success, the rest of last year has been full of hard knocks. My output has been dropping partially because of the aforementioned projects, but also due to the remarkable amount of research going into the latest submissions. The hardcore efforts have stung however, because despite twice the effort the results have been horrid disappointments. Promising ideas and concepts, even encouragement and interest from the editors… only to be rejected anyway.

The words have been flowing more slowly as of late. I believe the reason is because I’m looking to be concise, more efficient with what is said. With every section I find myself weighing the value of what is told. On one hand, it makes it easier to avoid the Stieg Larrson approach, where he gives too much information and details about the most utterly mundane things. On the flip side, some of those details are worth sharing, painting an image of fictional person’s preferences and aspects of the setting.

Sometimes it feels like proper character development and world-building is less in the appearance of something and more in the tale of why it exists in the first place. My latest piece feels like a solid example of that, in that it’s not so much a short story but rather a dozen historical vignettes that paint the portrait of the city in question. I’m not a vested history buff or anything. It’s just that if you stare at a city without digging into its past, they often look the same. People can be much the same, rather visually bland within crowds until you get to know them.

Perhaps that’s all many novels really are. A composite of a thousand micro-stories, with the main plot just the latest tally to be added to that list…

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