What a busy, busy year it has been. I was going to do another post on “the Craft” of writing this month, but I think it’s important to update all of you on where my writing is at. And it will help me sort out in my head all the stuff I’ve been working on.
Bottom line: There are a lot of ideas, themes and sketches flooding into my head. It’s a struggle to capture it all!
So, here’s a quick and simple writing update on all the projects I have up in the air right now.
So, I finished a new-new novella. (This is to differentiate it from the “new” novella I wrote: Resurrection of the Grim Chop Maharajah). This is a piece I had been thinking about and envisioning in my mind’s eye for years. The kernel of this idea came from one of my absolute favorite writers: Gogol. Gogol has a story called “Viy.” And here’s the weird thing: my story is based on a false memory or reimagining of what a “Viy” is. I never read the story, just blurbs of it. I envisioned it as a sort of roving spirit, an ephemeral thing, a sort of fog or miasma, if you will.
I struggled for years on how to actualize this into a story and to differentiate it from Gogol’s idea. But I didn’t panic, I let it set. Just lay there. (This is also new for me: I don’t force ideas anymore, I let them incubate). I didn’t think about it for a long, long time. Then, last year-as you all know-I started doing some basic astronomy and learned about globular clusters. The interesting thing about these is their symmetry which humans, somehow, like to equate with organic life. (Most animals have good symmetry: matching arms and legs, a torso). Still, I didn’t connect this to anything in this story…
But one day, it sunk in. The sparkling idea came in with the tide. I thought: “What IF this creature could be like a globular cluster?” And bam! Everything started to fall into place. The characters, the setting, the plot. And now, I have what I’m calling a “Sci-Fi Ghost story.” A novella, really. But it captured so many great things I’ve wanted to say.
I’m calling it “The Presence.” And I’m polishing it now.
Two New Short Stories
I fought writing poetry for a long time. A long, long time. But now, guess what? Writing poetry is informing my prose writing.
The first story I recently completed is another “star story.” …Writing lots of those lately…Anyway, I had screwed around with this idea of a self-conscious star for some time. This is a variant on that idea. It’s really about a self-conscious beam of light. Actually: its birth, life and death. And what comes after. All written in a sort of poetic pastiche. I love it. It’s one of the stories where you don’t care what editors or others think about it. You love it and think it’s beautiful—and that’s enough!
Anyway, it’s all done and I’m submitting it now. It’s called “Photon.” It has racked up one rejection and more will certainly come, but that’s OK.
Then, there is another story I finished. Not speculative fiction at all. It’s historical fiction. I’m calling it Summa Theologica fan fiction. This is another story with a poetic sheen I have had in my head for years—just sitting there—not knowing what to do with it. It has to do with a certain incident near the end of St. Thomas Aquinas’ life in which he had a crisis that led him to doubt the value of his lifework and, by extension, his entire existence. I will leave it at that. But if you know a little something about his life, the story’s title will make sense to you.
It’s called “Straw.”
I’ve finished the second draft so this is close, close, close to being submitted. But that will be a trick! Not many places accept short historical fiction. But that’s cool. I didn’t write it for them. I wrote it for me.
Did someone say poetry? Yeah…right…OK… I have been writing some poetry. I think after my success with “The King Becomes a Star” I owe to myself to explore this some more.
This new poetry is whatever I want it to be. Some is speculative, some is not. It’s whatever I feel. It just comes into the head and goes onto the page (or actually phone, more on that later!). Simple as that. Then, I polish it some. It’s all still a crazy process to me. So unlike prose. But you know what? I’m finding I LIKE it. I’m also finding that it fulfills a part of my creative self I never knew existed: the one who wants to be completely spontaneous and feelings-based. That it’s short also helps: there is little time commitment per poem. So, I will keep doing it!
The upshot: I have completed the first drafts of a number of poems. One I’m particularly proud of is called “Hybrid Vigor.” It’s a sort of…What? A patriotic song? A meditation on Darwinian evolution? An anti-royalist screed? The bottom line: It’s poetry and that’s what matters. This would be part of a collection I’m calling “N” for now.
I also wrote a poem about …Guess what? Stars and other things. It’s called “Al-Hurra.” It’s a finished first draft and I will polish it soon. This would be part of a collection I’m calling “T” for now.
I have a few others poems in second draft or earlier stages and will post about them when I think they’re in a good state. That is, when they’re at least a complete first draft–per my usual practice.
Boy. That was a lot. More than I thought. But heck, when it rains, it pours. What else is there to say? I think it’s time to take a break from writing first drafts! It’s time to polish some of these pieces.
Of course, those could be famous last words…
You know, I have this great idea for another novella running through my head…
See you next time!