I have one last try for that July 31 deadline started, but it is coming out slowly. For once in my life, I am being very pragmatic and outlining first: not my usual method, but I’m hoping to get the draft done early enough that I can get feedback on it before I send it off. I still don’t trust myself to send anything longer than 1500 words without some kind of critique first. There are so many different angles to view a story from, I’m always forgetting at least one and then when someone points it out to me—for instance, you move the goalposts 3/4 of the way through, or that one scene is just straight telling, not showing as you’ve done elsewhere—I have one of those facepalm moments, because I thought of everything but that. And then if I’ve jumped the gun and sent it anywhere, I’ve wasted that submission.
I have critiques to return. I have several people now asking to read Talassio, which is sitting on my desktop like a piece of ripped clothing—I know what I have to do to fix it, but it’s just finding the many hours I need to do so. Solid, uninterrupted hours, not having to talk to anyone or check emails or anything. Preferably in my pajamas, showering at noon, never seeing the sunlight, that one Vivaldi piece on perpetual repeat, etc. We won’t get into all the research that’s piled up because READING TIME, or the fact that Italy is still a blank slate.
In other news, these last weeks of June should bring back some submission results which I’m trying not to feel antsy about, wait let me just check my email . . .
And for my own reminder, I am putting here a link to Nick Mamatas’ reasons for “retiring” from SF/F/H:
I’ve asked before, in my lower moments, who are my people? Because on any given day, one of my stories might make a “literary” person say: well-written, but pointlessly ewww; and at the same time a “genre” person might say: way too long, way too overwritten, just cut to the chase.
Those are the poles I seem to bounce between. Sometimes, though, sometimes I’ll be internetting around and I’ll feel like the new kid at school: these genres and movements and subcultures are all so very tight-knit, and I’m sitting just outside quite a few of them.
And then I start to want to write in order to be accepted, and therein lies the danger.
I’ve gotten this far—and it’s not very far, to be sure, but it’s further than I’ve been before—because I have taken all of that out of the equation. There is no L.S. Johnson. There is never going to be flurries of tweets, the weighing in on this or that kerfuffle, much less the convention panels, the bookfair readings, the signing lines. There is only the work. Every morning and every night, day in and day out, for three years now. This is what it takes, this is how it is. I have written over a million words since those longago lovely three months off, and I’ve thrown out half of them. At least six drafts for any story, revising, revising, revising. Sitting down yet again in this chair, utterly exhausted, and trying once more to find the little things that are keeping a story from singing.
This is my life, now. But every word of it is mine, every word of it has come from me. I daren’t even blink; if I lose this openness, this direct line to somewhere deep inside myself? I don’t think I’ll have another chance. I’m too old now to start over yet again, or fashion myself into a style or a type or a genre. All I can do is move forward: morning and night, day in and day out, in this chair.
As for the Mamatas post? A reminder that the grass is not always greener inside? Or perhaps a little hint that my roundabout journey to arrive at this point was not a waste of time; in fact it might—it just might—have been for the best.