Okay, well, today I’m going to take a brief break from my “Author’s Notes” series, to give you some updates and reflections upon what’s happening in my current writing. I plan to return to the Author’s Notes next week, with a reflection on “The Chasm and the Collision.” This one of my most emotion-laden works, and is, perhaps, the closest one to my heart. At least, it’s the one that bears the greatest personal hope and motivation, though my darker stories are probably more reflective of some aspects of my personality.
Those of you who follow this blog will have noted that, earlier this week, I published “Prometheus and Chiron,” as an e-book for Kindle. As with “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” I think it benefited greatly from my decision to re-edit it de novo. This fact has convinced me more than ever of the wisdom of a suggestion Stephen King gives in his wonderful book “On Writing.” He recommends that, once you have finished a story, you put it away for a while before beginning the editing/rewriting process. That way, when you come back to it, you do so with a fresh point of view, and a more objective eye.
Both “Ifowonco” and “Prometheus and Chiron” were subjected to rewriting and editing before I ever posted them here on the blog, and yet when I returned to them, I found that they needed quite a bit of fine-tuning. This was not specific to the narrative—I was well satisfied with the arcs of both stories, and didn’t change any of those substantial facts. But the language use, the choice of words—stylistic matters, as well as grammatical ones—bore significant improvement. This is probably at least partly a result of the fact that, in putting the stories on my blog, I was publishing them informally. I was happy and eager to receive any feedback, including the pointing out of glaring stylistic problems, grammatical errors, and so on, by blog readers. This didn’t happen—unfortunately—but I would have welcomed it, and so perhaps I was a bit lazy. Beyond that, though, it’s simply a fact that I first edited the stories immediately after writing them, and so I was still in the mindset of that initial creative process, not in that of a critic. The story in both cases was so fresh in my head that it flowed right through the awkward phrasings and poor word choices that I had used, because I knew only too well what I meant to say. Coming back after a while helped me realize that, while my intention might have been clear to me, the true measure of success is how well that intention is communicated, not how strongly it was felt by the author.
So, I’m pleased with the outcomes of my more recent editing, though I’m sure that both stories—like every other one ever written, probably—could be improved still. Stories, I think, are never really finished from the author’s point of view; they’re just allowed to go free.
My happiness at putting those two short stories out as e-books has led me to take a short break from “Unanimity” and focus entirely on rewriting “Hole for a Heart” to release it as an e-book. Then, I shall return to “Unanimity,” and complete it while not working on any other simultaneous fiction projects. Thankfully—and I am indeed quite thankful for this—I am blessed with the ability easily to return to the state of mind I was last in when writing a story, and am able quickly to jump back into the stream of its creation, without losing the earlier threads. This is why I was able to write “Son of Man” more than twenty years after I had first started it, with an opening that is almost identical, even in specific phrases, to how I had written it decades in the past. The story then proceeded, more or less, just I had thought it would back in the nineties.
Of course, even in a story conceived and written in one continuous, unbroken chain of creation, there are always surprises. That’s one of the great joys of writing fiction. Characters and events are simulations, of a sort, and they follow the rules you program into them. Sometimes the interplay of these rules produces outcomes the writer didn’t explicitly imagine or expect when beginning the story, but which are inescapable products of the nature of those characters and events. This is really quite a wonderful thing, when it happens, and feels nearly miraculous.
Given my plan to focus on it exclusively, I expect that “Hole for a Heart” will be released more quickly on the heels of “Prometheus and Chiron” than the latter was following “Ifowonco.” I could be wrong. “Hole for a Heart” is even slightly longer than “Ifowonco,” and is quite a bit longer than “Prometheus and Chiron.” It may take a lot of work to tighten it up optimally and to shape it into a form for which I’m willing to charge people actual money.
And now, to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.” At least, that’s all I have to say for the moment. I’m a bit long-winded, in writing if not in person, so I don’t doubt that more will be forthcoming on these topics in the future. In the meantime, please do consider buying and reading my stories, and if you do, please review them. In fact, if you write to me and ask, I’d be happy to buy you a copy of any of my short stories—and probably my novels—in return for the promise that you will review them. I don’t need you to promise to give them good reviews. You can be brutal and needlessly sadistic, if that’s your preference. In this, I am fearless, for I suspect that—once one stops weeping—it’s possible to learn more from the feedback of a malicious reviewer than from one who merely sings one’s praises, though the latter is no doubt more pleasant. This doesn’t mean I want you to say you don’t like the stories if you really do like them, just that you don’t have to butter me up; I’m fat enough already.
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Try not let politics get you down too much—everything’s ephemeral, after all.