Okay, well, hello and good morning. It’s Thursday again—the last Thursday of January already, which means that 2021 is almost a twelfth of the way over—and therefore it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts. For those who find such regularities in the world comforting, I’m only too happy to provide one such for you.
I’m back at work physically now, as well as just actively, and I can tell you, even though I’m past the acute phase of Covid, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I’m still pretty beat up just from the after-effects of the virus, getting tired in the middle of the day when I don’t normally have that problem, finding it hard to concentrate, and so on. And I’m pretty durable with respect to illnesses in general, having been exposed to many of them professionally, and weathering most of them nicely. I really feel badly for people who have chronic health difficulties who then get this illness, and I’m glad that vaccines are being distributed and used.
One good thing that came of my convalescence was that, as I started to feel a bit better and the weekend came around, I decided to take another look to try to find an old picture I’d drawn of the Vagabond, and which captured his essence very nicely. I think I’ve mentioned here previously that I hoped to use that picture as the basis for the eventual cover of the novel. Well, I went through all my email and social media accounts to find any occasion on which I’d uploaded or attached that drawing, but I had no luck, even on my old MySpace page. So, I decided to dig methodically through some material my sister had sent me from when she was moving out of, and cleaning up, our parents’ former house.
Well, I didn’t find the drawing anywhere in there, unfortunately, and I didn’t really expect to find it. But I did find two editions of the Acorn, which was a xeroxed compilation of writings that had won gold medals in what our school system called the Pop Olympics. In the earlier one, there was an excerpt of a story I wrote in either ninth or tenth grade. I knew all about that one, and I’ve never felt any urge to recreate the story. It was just a cheesy little thing without much depth. But then I found a copy of the Acorn from my junior year, and I discovered that it included the full text of my short story House Guest, which I’ve mentioned here before as being the story that won me the National Council of Teachers of English award in high school!
That was a story I’ve definitely wanted to recreate if I can, and of which I had previously only had the first page or two remaining. Now, mirabile dictu, I have the whole thing again! It will need sprucing up, of course; I was only 16 or 17 when I wrote it, and though it won an award (two awards, I guess), it’s still not as good as I would want it to be if I were writing it now. Nevertheless, now I can include it in my eventual collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, as a “new” story, which is good, because I don’t think I’m going to be able to fit Outlaw’s Mind into that collection. It’s just going to be too long and will probably need to be released as a stand-alone short novel.
I also found the handwritten beginning of a short story I might have mentioned before, called In the Shade. It’s a pretty grim horror story—grim in the sense that it involves a supernatural force that, to begin the tale, has sort of bitten off the fingers of a nine-year-old boy. I may try to finish that story and put it in the collection, since it was almost done when I stopped writing it initially, and it’s not bad. It just feels particularly harsh because the first victim of the story is a kid. I worried that maybe I was being a bit too brutal. Still, the kid turns out…well, I won’t say “all right”, but he does survive the story. The same can’t be said about everyone in it.
Of course, being back in the office as I am, I’m back to work on editing/rewriting/laying out of The Vagabond, of which I’m on the penultimate run-through. It’s going well, and I look forward to its publication, but I might be forced just to try to recreate my old picture for the cover. Then, I think, once The Vagabond is done and I’ve finished Outlaw’s Mind and Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, I’m going to flip back over to broader fantasy/sci-fi rather than writing more horror. Of course, nearly all of my writing ends of having dark/horror-esque aspects, since that just seems to be the way my mind works. But something a bit more light-hearted and adventurish might be a welcome break. Perhaps I’ll work on Dark Fairy and the Desperado or Changeling in a Shadow World after I’m through with these*, assuming nothing kills me first.
Of course, I always have lots of short story ideas jotted down, some of which have already come to fruition, and others of which might follow. It would be nice, in the fullness of time, to recreate Ends of the Maelstrom**, the first novel I ever wrote, and some aspects of which underlie many of the cosmologies in others of my story universes, including The Chasm and the Collision.
So, there are many tales to tell still, and there probably always will be. Sometimes that feels like a wondrous opportunity; at other times it feels like a broad, forbidding wilderness with an endlessly receding horizon. Mostly, both aspects are true at once, and I guess that tension can be a useful thing.
*I think I’ll put off Neko/Neneko for the time being. I’m no longer in contact with the artist I wanted to do the cover for it, anyway, and that was the strongest impetus for me to write that as my next project.
**I actually found a few printed-out pages which included about the first chapter of that story as I had typed it into a word processor…on old, perforated, continuous-feed printer paper, of all things! So at least I have a starting point, and of course, I know how the story goes.