It’s spring. So there’s a lot of leaves around from last fall. Sort of like a letter from your old pal Autumn. Hi! Remember me? Thought I was gone, didn’t ya? He takes after his brother, Winter. Even when he’s gone, he’s not entirely gone.
So I bought a leaf mulcher. It’s basically a string trimmer turned on its back with a funnel to guide the leaves into the strings where they are chopped into, as the commercial says, “That’s some good mulch!” But honestly I don’t need the mulch. Neither one of us could be fairly called gardeners. We just like the leaves tended to rather than blowing around willy-nilly. At least mulch is good for the yard.
Rather like bits and pieces of old stories. I sometimes still refer to false starts, stories that went bad, snippets of notions and such “mulch.” Nothing’s really wasted. Maybe that false start was the right start, just the wrong story. Sometimes a bad story will finally tell you what it needs to make it good, or that snippet has a notion buried in it you weren’t ready to recognize at the time. Since half of writing is recognizing a good story when it shows itself, that’s a win. They’re all win.
First a quick couple of notes. The new Yamada story is finished, submitted and sold to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The title is “Uzumaki of the Lake” and it might come out this year, maybe autumn or winter. I’ll post it here when I get a solid date. Not counting the last two novels, it’ll be the first new Yamada story in seven years. I guess we both needed a break.
Break may be over though. I’m already mulling another one. We’ll see if it comes together. I hope so. I’ve missed those guys.
I hit a problem in the new novel which was slowing me down considerably, but I think I’ve got a handle on at least the next part, so that goes on.
I used to be a chess player, in that I played in HS and even played on the college team. The highlight of my career was getting a draw in a ten-board exhibition match with an A rated player. The lowest point was a HS tournament where a lighting fixture fell on my head. It was enough to make me wonder if I should consider another hobby. Regardless, I hadn’t even looked at a chess board in years when I stumbled across a couple of chess problems recently and solved them easily. I was never that good at chess problems (for those who don’t know, it’s a board set up so that one side or another can easily win or gain advantage, if only they can figure out the right move). It’s got me thinking about playing again.
Time just looks at me and laughs.
Seems especially appropriate on the current project. After awhile I always end up asking the question. Is this a story? Or just you thinking out loud, except with typing? Sometimes it is just me thinking out loud, because I wonder about almost everything. How could you not? Almost everything is strange when you look at it for more than a few seconds.
I shouldn’t complain. Most stories begin because I’m thinking about something. A mythology, a popular delusion, it doesn’t really matter what. Sometimes it turns into a story, sometimes not. Sometimes if goes on and on and I’m really pulling for it to turn into a story, and it usually does, because that’s how my mind works. Trying to make sense of something that doesn’t always make sense on the face of it. There may be an underlying logic there. Or I just come up with one that seems plausible and fits, whether it’s actually there or not. Good stories come out of both types.
It is a bit frustrating, however, when you’re in the middle of either thinking out loud or writing a story, and you’re still not sure which. It’s even worse when the story could be a book. I don’t plot ahead of time because I can’t, but generally there comes a point where I know where it’s going. I have no idea how to get there, but at least I’ve got a direction. That’s usually all I need.
Don’t know where I’m going yet on this one. Maybe I’ll figure it out. Maybe not. Won’t know without a lot more work, which writing is. You don’t have to be a genius, but you do have to think. It’s work.
My head hurts.
Saturday it was sixty degrees. Monday there’s snow on the ground. Sounds like an April Fools’ joke where some wiseacre hired a snow machine to trick his neighbor, but no. Just winter being a dick. “You thought I was gone? I’ll show you!” Probably not the last we’ll see of the old boy before May.
I have editorial revisions to do. Been a while since that’s happened. The regular sort of working revisions? Sure, plenty. These are at the direction of someone else. I don’t mind revisions, mostly. Usually it just gives me one more chance to make the story better before any other reader sees it. That’s if you are working with a good editor. This is a good editor. I’ve worked with some that, well, not so much. I take comfort, however, in knowing a bad editor generally isn’t around long, so there’s a limit to how much damage they can do. That doesn’t help much when you’re struggling to make sense of suggestions straight from the Twilight Zone.
As I said. I don’t mind revisions. For proof, I only meant to glance at what I was doing on the story revisions and ended up working through the entire manuscript. Which is why this blog post is going up in the late afternoon rather than early afternoon. Not that I’m done with the manuscript, of course. I’ll look it over again and see what I could do better.
Pretty much my only rule for revision is: make it better or make it stop. It’s a word we sometimes forget. You can always say no. It’s your story. Worse case, you look for a market that appreciates it for what it is, not for what someone else thinks it should be. But usually a good editor won’t do that. They’ll see what you were trying to do, and help you do it better. That’s gold. And rarer.
Another day of sunshine, and another new Yamada story. This one’s a true flash, so I likely won’t be expanding it, unless I reconsider some of the backstory I had to gloss over to make my word limit. Actually, there’s quite a lot there, now that I think about it. And a new character whose presence is ripe for making trouble.
Okay, maybe I will, the more I think about it. Yamada’s new situation does present some story possibilities I hadn’t considered before. Or maybe I just missed the guys, I don’t know.
I also need to get back to Marta…and Jing and Mei Li and that exorcist guy. I have been remiss. I have been up to my eyeballs, actually, but I’ve finally realized that’s not going to change…ever. I just need to find ways to work with it.
The short stories I can fit around the novel project, but not another novel. One at a time is my limit, I’ve discovered. I’m making progress, it just doesn’t seem like it most of the time.
Lately, it sort of does.