Aside — my writing lately


A poem of mine, “Deep Touch”, will be published soon in Tempered Runes Press’ inaugural issue of

Bluing the Blade. I’m really proud of this accomplishment, which reminds me: I haven’t been submitting short stories and poems lately.

I’m not sure why; probably because I haven’t written any lately, and I’m running out of good poems to submit. I have a lot of poems I’m not that enthused with. As for stories, I have a couple I’m in love with, but they haven’t caught traction. 

Time to think about writing short stuff again, even though one selection of serialized short stories is arguing that it should be a novel. Then again, given the space opera premise of the stories, serialized may be the best use of the material. 

Muse, where are you? I need some inspiration!

This Too

Every now and then I get to a point where I’m convinced I’ve reached the end of my writing career, that I’m ready to put the whole thing down. 

This is one of those times.

I just don’t feel as much like a writer when I’m writing short stories. I’m not as focused (obsessed?), I have to come up with many, many more ideas rapidly (which I don’t know if I’m good at), and I don’t have the attachment to my characters.

Years ago, you wouldn’t have caught me writing a novel, and I never imagined I’d prefer novels to short stories.

Yet now is the time for short stories and sending them off to magazines and waiting. I’ve gotten a lot of rejections, but I keep trying.

I feel like quitting sometimes. I’ve felt like quitting many times before.

This too shall pass.

Are you trying to be funny?

I consider myself a pretty funny person, with stories, puns, dark humor — a pretty good complement of funny. 

However, I tend to write pretty dark, picking topics that might be too close to home at times (climate change) or contemporary with fantastical elements (immortals, people with preternatural talents). 

What are some ideas for a funny (maybe dark funny) short story?

  • A vampire at an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting
  • A man who time travels to the future to find it’s being run by sentient cats
  • A man who tumbles an autocratic government by introducing them to cat memes
  • An “elixir of life” that ends up inducing extreme altruism
I’m actually having fun here! Let’s see if one of these becomes a short story.

I’m almost to the point where I might take up Gaia’s Hands again for editing. I’m not convinced it has good bones, but I’m willing to wrestle with it. I might have Whose Hearts are Mountains on dev edit soon. 

I have to come up with a novel idea (see what I did there?) for NaNoWriMo in November. Wish me luck. 

Bits and Pieces

Having a relaxing weekend in Kansas City celebrating my birthday, just as I needed. Now in a coffeehouse on the south Plaza, typing this and drinking coffee and trying to come up with good ideas for writing. 

The computer issue was a ID-10-T error (look at what that spells carefully); it was my dongle for the mouse rather than the USB port itself. But what the heck, it got me down here for a birthday celebration.

I’m feeling really frustrated with ideas of what to write, however. I just finished a short story called “God’s Broken Promise” which was based on an experience I had. Richard keeps suggesting characters — a guitar-shredding Buddhist monk, a woman with a pack of cats — but I can’t find the stories there. I guess I don’t start with characters like I thought I did. I start with plot, run with theme, and then the characters make themselves known. 

So what do I want to write about? I want to write short stories with twist endings — shocking or satisfying or dramatic or silly. (I haven’t written enough silly stuff lately). I want to write novels again (although I’m about to embark in another dev edit). 

I need ideas that grab me.

Writing Small

Stories have several aspects to them that make things interesting:

  1. The plot — what’s actually happening; the action. In a novel, there may be more than one plot (designated as A plot, B plot, etc.)
  2. The themes — these are the wider messages of the piece. They have big implications: man vs. nature, greed doesn’t pay, etc.
  3. The characters — these are the people in the story. Generally you will have one or two main characters and maybe up to 8 point of view characters in a third-person ensemble piece.
  4. The setting — people want to know where something happens and what it looks like.
When I write novels, I seem to start with character and plot first. Like “who is this person and what have they gotten themselves into?” Inspiration comes from that kernel of the story and spreads out from there as I’m writing.

Writing short stories, on the other hand, feels strange — all the parts of the story are there, but they’re a lot smaller, with one sentence often carrying the seed to all the parts: For example, “A woman hallucinates about the end of the world — or does she see visions?” With that idea/character/plot, I proceed with the story. 

Short stories are harder for me because of motivation. I can’t dwell in a short story for months at a time like I can novels, so it doesn’t tempt me as much. I’m with the characters and the plot only for a short time, and I have to make the best of my time. 

A Little More on Short Stories

So the new short story, Runesansu, is finished at 4100 words. It feels strange writing short stories, because they’re not all-encompassing for months like novels are. I don’t get that intense immersion into characters. 

And, the thing that bothers me, I don’t get dev edits. It’s not worth the money to go through a dev edit for 4100 words, but it would be nice to get that developmental eye that can tell whether you’ve slowed down in the middle or gone off the rails. I mean, could these stories be better? I don’t know.

All in a day — it’s Thursday, and I’m sleepy. I’m going to post the new story today or tomorrow. Let me know what you think!

Short Stories

I’m falling in love with short stories.

I’ve been playing with stories relating to the characters in Prodigies, because that’s what’s been close to my mind right now. I posted one of them, Hands, in this blog previously. 

I don’t know how “marketable” they are, because they’re my writing, and I’m having trouble getting the novels accepted. They tend to tie in with my novels, which will be a great thing once I’m published (anthologies are nice bonuses to give people as an incentive to buy your work at conferences), and before then they’re stories I can try to publish.

Publishing short stories does not pay, for the most part. There’s a lot of competition, of course, and I’ve gotten more rejections than acceptances so far. I don’t know if anyone reads them besides the other people who are published in the journal or website. But getting published does give a little buzz of happiness. 

Meanwhile, as a writer, I find that writing short stories gives me small doses of accomplishment — not as much as when I finish a novel, but enough to make me feel like writing again.