The Tale End of the Year
My final story of the year was also (by a whisker), the longest. It was also just about the easiest to write, although the dictates of starting it in December for a Dec 31st deadline meant my life became more stressful than usual, since that three week period encompasses two birthdays, Christmas and New Year. Earlier in the year I’d seen a submission call from one of my favourite publishers. Not having any suitable stories, and being bereft of inspiration, I sent off a poem that I thought might prove suitable (the publisher was seeking both fiction and poetry), even though it was months ahead of the deadline. I was lucky enough to get a rapid response noting I’d been shortlisted and being very complimentary about my efforts. Since I knew it would be months before I heard more, I thought no more about it.
However, come December the publisher did a final call for subs to the anthology. Gripped as we were by then in bitterly cold weather, I had a sudden inspiration for how I might produce something suitably chilly and macabre that suited the theme the publisher was looking for. Having checked to see whether multiple submissions were allowed, I settled down to write. As usual with my writing, I had the first line pop into my head immediately. Somewhat unusually though, the rest flowed fairly easily. The word count was a generous 12k, which meant I didn’t feel overly constrained and could simply write what I wanted to, and by resolving to write every day I was able to make good progress. Again, as usual, I had the final scene in my head right from the beginning, and although I didn’t quite manage to use it, it did provide a useful target to aim for. In the end, I finished in just over two weeks, and it came in at a thousand words longer than La Ronde, over which I had struggled for several months spread over two years! The finished story, Where the Ice Meets the Sea, was sent off a week before the end of the year.
So that was my productivity for the year – a mere four stories completed, none of which have yet seen the light of day. Of course, that doesn’t tell the full story. I got my website up and running, worked out how to use it and began outlining content. I began another story (also from a character profile) about an eccentric, disgraced professor of folklore called Meacher McClean, which is probably my most self-consciously ‘folk horror’ to date. At the moment he’s safely at home, but is about to answer the door to an unannounced – and unwelcome – visitor.
So, what actually lies ahead for the next few months of 2018? Well, Meacher is the priority, just as soon as I have an idea where to take the story next. Then I have another first line insistently nagging to be unshackled, but I’m hoping to keep it locked behind the cellar door until I can at least decide what time period it should be set in. I’m also in the process of rewriting my longest piece, a novella called The Incorruptible Sinner, not only with the intention of producing something more substantial, but also following recommendations received (recommendations which went off like a flash of light in my head – of course the protagonist should do that). Hopefully that will expand the story considerably.
I also have another finished story to rewrite. This was originally written with one character, but I now intend to produce a version that has a completely different (and ongoing) protagonist. To a degree that’s dependant upon another story being picked up, but it’s something that will happen regardless. Which all sounds very confusing, but at least I know what I mean.
Following that, in keeping with my resolution to finish ALL incomplete pieces, I intend to return to my one and only sf story. I’m rather proud of the 6k that I’ve written, but since it’s hugely out of my comfort zone (being about a female teenage genius with degrees in multiple scientific disciplines) it’s absorbing huge amounts of research to get the even the basics sounding right. Originally I stopped work on it when I realised that it couldn’t come in at the word count that had been stipulated, but now that consideration has been removed it’s ripe for reappraisal.
And finally, there’s my long delayed YA novel, which so far exists only as two and a half chapters and some scrawled notes. I don’t want to mention too much about this one, not only because of the aforementioned superstition, but also it’s in such a malleable and ill defined state that lots of things are likely to change. I’ll get there.
And finally, finally; although not something I’m contributing to but rather editing, the last volume in Fringeworks Press series of updated fairy tales, Grimm and Grimmer vol 5, is slouching towards Amazon. All stories are edited, cover is done, and there are just a few last considerations (proofing and layout mainly) before it can be given its coat and shoved, blinking, into the light of day. More news on that as it comes in.
That’s it then, really. Perhaps not such a regression as feared. Happy New Year to everyone.