Hello and good morning, everyone. It’s Thursday again, and that means it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts. It’s also a new month (September, 2020 AD or CE), and though that doesn’t have much bearing on the blog—now that I’ve long since discontinued “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”—it’s at least an indicator that time, as it tends to do, has continued to pass, or at least that our experience of it has continued, trapped as we are in the grip of the second law of thermodynamics.
My writing has continued well this week, but I’m falling prey to something I expected, but which I nevertheless find challenging: now that I have the file of Vagabond—or as I am thinking of retitling it, The Vagabond—I’m torn between the process of working on Outlaw’s Mind (formerly Safety Valve) and rewriting/editing The Vagabond. It’s particularly tempting to do the latter because, after so many years, finally to have the book thanks to the beneficence and munificence of my ex-wife, it’s hard to be patient about publishing it. Though the risks of it being lost again are surely low, it’s still hard not to feel a combination of anxiety and excitement that pull me toward it.
I’m enjoying rereading it as I edit, since it’s been a very long time since I’ve had the chance. I’m making changes as I go along—I think my skills as an author have improved significantly since I first wrote it, particularly in style and word choice. Also, the original suffered from the erratic nature of my writing at the time, as I think I discussed last week. It’s great fun meeting the characters again after so long; this is doubly so because at least a few of them are based on some of my university friends. It’s also enjoyable to return to a time when no one was on the internet because there was no such thing (or if there was, it was restricted to very narrow uses relative to today).
I have no intention of trying to bring the story into the “modern” world. It remains set in 1989, roughly, and will continue to remain there.
So, to balance my urges, I’ve been trying to make sure that I write about a thousand new words on Outlaw’s Mind daily before turning to The Vagabond, but it’s difficult to enforce that, and it makes the new writing more of a chore than it might be otherwise. I’m going slightly against my principle of finishing one thing before moving on to another, a hard lesson I learned largely from Vagabond itself. But this is a unique situation, so I’m giving myself at least a little bit of leeway. I feel that it would almost be a sign of ingratitude to my ex-wife not to proceed quickly with Vagabond. She always liked the story; she’s the only person other than I who has read it (as far as I know), and she always encouraged my writing. She even used to say that it was one of the reasons she fell for me*, and that’s a statement worthy of some repayment in speedy effort.
Still, I already put off Outlaw’s Mind during the editing and rewriting of Unanimity, and I don’t want to leave it fallow yet again. It’s a conundrum, but I suppose it’s not a bad one in which to be mired as an author; I’ve always had more ideas than I’ve ever had time to bring to fruition. There are worse things
Another concern with which I’m dealing is how quickly Outlaw’s Mind is growing. It’s already more than twice as long as, for instance, Of Mice and Men, and it’s about half as long as Vagabond so far. I’m not yet near the end, either. Even writing only a thousand words a day (which for me is fairly modest) it grows quickly. I worry about it becoming too big to fit into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which I may have to turn into just a collection of short stories that have already been published individually. (I plan to also include in it the author’s notes for the various stories, which appear on this blog, probably modified slightly, which will give it some extra meat). I really did hope to put this original work in it as well, but I worry about making the final product too big and running into the problem I had with Unanimity**. I guess I’ll have to see how things turn out.
I’ve had occasion to wonder whether my writing grows so much because I’m able to type so quickly when I write new fiction. I haven’t clocked myself, but if I get going, it’s not too hard to put out two to three thousand words in a few hours of a morning, and that leads thing to expand rapidly. The question is, do I write too much. Might I be more parsimonious if I wrote in a more restrictive form, say by producing my original drafts long hand? I did that for Mark Red, The Chasm and the Collision, and for the “short” story Paradox City—I had no other choice, being a guest of the Florida DOC at the time. None of those are particularly short works, of course…Paradox City is practically a novella in its own right, though it is officially a short story, according to me.
With all that in mind, I bought myself a new clipboard and about six-hundred sheets of college ruled notebook paper, and I may try doing the rest of Outlaw’s Mind using that…or I may just try using that for my next new work. Or I may quickly give up on it, haunted by the irrevocable loss of Ends of the Maelstrom and by the illegibility of my cursive. I’m not going to make a firm commitment now, but it is something I’m weighing.
In the meantime, I hope you’re having a great month, and I hope at least some of you are reading Unanimity Book 1 and are looking forward to Unanimity Book2 and to The Vagabond and to Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities. No matter what you read, be well, please!
*My writing in general, not Vagabond specifically, since we were married well before it was finished.