It’s been a year of writing lots of stuff so far. This year seems to have been my year of having too many ideas – although I’m yet to be convinced that having too many ideas is actually a problem if you’re a writer.
Earlier this year, Frontier Resistance (Book 2 in the Frontier Series) was released in paperback format. I finished writing Frontier Defiant (Book 3), and it’s now gone through its first round of edits. It’s officially the end of the trilogy, but I’m finding that my mind keeps returning to Frontier, so at some point I may write some more Frontier stories.
In addition I’ve also written approximately two thirds of a new novel – this one set primarily in space, and about twenty percent of another YA novel, this time a fantasy. I seem to be having idea after idea after idea, every one of them initiating a great desire to write them down immediately. I’ve compromised by writing their beginnings so that I don’t forget them, so in addition to the aforementioned stories, I’ve written the beginnings of a middle grade fantasy and a middle grade science fiction story. Consequently I now have four new, completely different, stories sitting on my laptop screaming for attention.
Then I began writing short form, just because I’ve really been enjoying reading them. Earlier this year, I went to the NSW Writers Centre Speculative Fiction festival. There was a great panel on short stories, full of accomplished authors, and one of the things I took away from it, was that there’s a huge difference between writing long and short form. For me this has been true in theory and in practice.
This year, one of my short stories found a home. It’ll be published in the Novascapes 2 Anthology later this year, or early next year, and another one has made the second round for another anthology. I’m still waiting to hear about that one, but that’s OK – you learn to be patient when you’re a writer. I’ve also had a number of rejections for another couple. Some of the rejections have returned with feedback, which I’ve found extremely helpful.
One of the reasons it’s been so helpful, is that twice now the feedback’s essentially said the same thing – namely that I write my short stories like the beginnings of novels. Apparently the readers generally like the stories, however I clearly haven’t mastered the art of completing a story in short form particularly well. The first time I received feedback like that, I was sort of pleased, mainly because I’d been playing around with the character to see if she’d be good to write a whole novel with. The second time (different story), I realised that the idea I’d had might possibly be good for a whole novel, although I’d really like to make the story work in short form, partly because I want to master short story writing, and partly because I think a few more edits might sort it out. (And I really, really like the idea.)
The whole hope/rejection cycle is an interesting one, though. You think you’ve done a good job, but your story might not be the right fit, or maybe it works better inside your head than on your page, and you’re waiting, and then it’s either elation or, “OK, time to rewrite.”
Another thing that I took home from the Spec Fic Festival was that sometimes a short story just has to find the right home. That appears to be the case for the Novascapes one. Having said that, it’s had several re-writes and several re-imaginings along the way. Each time I put a story away for a while, it helps me look at it with fresh eyes, and I’m much more able to see the flaws in my original work. Some of it’s because I’m growing (or so I hope) as a writer, and some of it’s because distance helps me to be more objective. It also helps me to see what I actually wrote, and not what I thought I wrote…
I was also part of a self published anthology earlier this year – May the Fourth: A Collection Across Time and Space, and I’ll have another story published in another self published anthology in mid October. We’re a collection of writers who’ve met online. We began our May the Fourth stories from the same first line. This time around we’ve worked on a Halloween theme – rather challenging for an Australian who doesn’t do the Halloween thing. I had to really think about that one!
Anyway, I’m in the middle of yet another short story, so I’d probably better get back to it, before I watch Dr Who this evening and fold the washing. (Much less fun than either writing or watching TV!)