If April is the cruelest month, she should take some lessons from November. Man, this has been a fuckin’ ROLLER COASTER of a month. Every UP in my personal life seemed to coincide with a DOWN in the rest of the world. I’d get a bit of good news, and then I’d jump on Facebook to share it and see that another brutal, nasty tragedy hit someone close to me, so I tried keeping my mouth shut, tried keeping my cards close to my chest, and maybe slip a few morsels in between the chaos and madness of America, November 2016.
I’m heartsick about the world, but on that front I’m already doing what I can. I don’t have enough strength or patience, or emotional overflow to stretch myself too thinly, but I treat each new day as an opportunity to do what I can with what I’ve got. That’s personal life stuff. If I share it here than at best it sounds like bragging, at worst I’ll be judged for how little effect on the world it will actually have. No win, so scratch it. Moving on to other topics.
I wrote a flash fiction piece this month. 1000 words. It makes me uncomfortable to think that a story can be so concise, but if I start adding to it I’ll just fuck it up. Best to leave well enough alone. I’m going to shop it around, but if I don’t sell it by March it’s going up on the blog. I’m proud of it, and I’ll use it as a calling card.
I also worked on the novel. It seems everyone’s working on a novel, until you realize that you only THINK that because you surround yourself with writers. Turns out, most of the world doesn’t give a flying fuck that I’m writing a novel. They look at me like I say I’m training to climb a mountain, or that I’m really getting the hang of Latin. Outside of daily life, it seems like a ridiculous, pointless endeavor to a lot of people. They don’t know how to respond when I blurt it out, not realizing that I don’t really care what they say, I’m just getting used to the idea of admitting I’m a writer.
Do you know how fucking HARD that is? To do something so personal and private for so long, then stand up and say, “Yeah, I think that I put words together in pleasant and interesting ways to entertain others,” and NOT feel like an asshole? Seriously, do you? I’d love some tips.
But I get to say that. I get to put myself out there now. I’ve really worked hard at getting good enough at this to feel like the things I write are WORTH sharing, and even worth SELLING. I’m ready for what comes next. So I tell everybody I won an award for a story, even if I know they’re not readers. I invite the scrutiny, the odd-duck looks, the puzzlement. I also invite the over-enthusiasm of other folks who want to write, too, but they just don’t have the time. I get it, man. I’ve been there. We all have 24-hours, but I know I wouldn’t have time either if I tried to get enough sleep. (I’m a 5 hours a night kinda guy, if I’m lucky).
I don’t want to grow up to write short stories. I love them, and I’ll read them forever, and I’ll even write more of them in the future, but if I’m honest I know that I want to be a novelist. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how horror stories can’t carry entire novels, and I tend to agree, but I know what makes me fall in love with certain books that ARE horror novels. (And usually LONG-ASS horror novels, too!) It’s the rest of the book. The characters. The world. The lives they have that are interrupted by the horror. A horror novel, in my head, needs to be built as carefully and as PURPOSEFULLY as an epic fantasy. You need to know your world, even if it resembles the one outside your door, and you need to twist the perceptions of that world to suit the story.
At least, these are the conceits I’m working with on MY book. I don’t really know. It’s a theory that I believe will pay off. I’m kind of counting on it, actually.
I’m a writer. I can say that now. I’m also 38, and I’ve kept all of my early attempts private and quiet. I’m ready to kick open the door and share every word that I’ve bled onto the page. Not just in 1000-word or 4000-word chunks, either, but in novels. In stories that suck a reader in and give them something resonant and (ideally) unforgettable.
Wish me luck.