August 30, 2016

Some fellow artists have written some nice words about words I wrote!

Maria Haskins has described ‘The Last‘ as “Great stuff” here, which is thrilling given the other authors on the list. Said list is also delightfully curated, each story a gem. She does this kind of roundup fairly often (there’s another one up for August) so I would add her site to your reader if you want to keep up on current short SFF!

Andrew Barton (woooo shout-out to a fellow Canadian) also gave a hat-tip to ‘The Last’ on his blog, citing a ‘fine, polished edge.’ I also found it interesting that he felt the story was so, so Canadian – when I was writing it I was picturing something Scandanavian, maybe Iceland or Finland, something up at the top of the world after it all ‘went quiet,’ but with that said, there’s no reason that a reader would assume that it wasn’t set in the Canadian Maritimes, including the names of the main characters. And then I got all excited at the possibilities of setting another story in that world, in the Atlantic Ocean between the two places. (So thanks AB!)

I’ve been more scarce than usual here and on my personal blog (and on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, messenger pigeon, and psychic blast) because I’ve jettisoned all my other short fiction (sigh) in favour of working on An Actual Real Novel That I Might Query One Day. (Indeed, with my heart simply failing to work two or three times a week, that day is probably best off sooner rather than later. I joke that I made the deadline so short to see if I could do it in four months, but in truth it’s because I thought I might sort of drop dead before finishing. Ha ha, it is to laff.)

Anyway, the Actual Real Novel was completed yesterday, which was very exciting, and I celebrated by buying myself dinner at my favourite Italian place (and then blacking out on the couch, which was not planned). By the end, the words were flowing so fast that I easily did 6500 words a day and had also given myself some kind of paralytic nerve trouble in both hands; it was like transcribing a particularly vivid movie scene. Now the grind begins – revisions, corrections, spackling plot holes, fixing the last name that changed halfway through the book (oops) – stuff to make this first draft basically readable, followed by whatever I can do to make it good. This isn’t my first novel and therefore, in some senses, isn’t my first rodeo. But the part after it is a rodeo of a different sort, and that will be a first: querying. I’m quite scared, but am determined to not give up revising and requerying until I have at least a hundred rejections, because it seems like a nice even number.

The main problem with Actual Real Novel as it stands right now is that it’s still a little jumbled, because it’s based on a novel I finished when I was…I dunno, nineteen, maybe twenty? with all the attendant problems of pacing and plot, escalation and action. It was a matter of stripping out the scanty good writing and ideas from an unusably amateurish framework and trying to fit them into something less stupid, sort of like trying to make a chicken pot pie using meat scraped from chicken wings. Chicken wings are delicious! But they are not very useful. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried a novel rewrite and so help me, it’s going to be the last. It began as the most frustrating thing I’ve ever done, working with that slimy, fiddly little piece of bar food, but a marathon 5 1/2 hour editing session one night helped a lot, and then the words were able to flow. (It was still horrrrrible compared to just sitting down and writing something from scratch, which is why it’s going to need so much revision. Fortunately none of my other garbagey highschool/university novels are worth giving the rewrite treatment.)

My goal is to get revisions done by Halloween, which might be a little hasty (on the other hand, it’s not a long novel? 86,000 words as of today), but I think it’s doable if I set up some kind of schedule after work each day – this is not a lunch-hour activity any more. Clear eyes, wonky heart, can’t lose.

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