About ogresan

Richard Parks' stories have have appeared in Asimov's SF, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, and numerous anthologies, including several Year's Bests. His first story collection, THE OGRE'S WIFE, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is the author of the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books.

Yamada Redux

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.

 

A Dangerous Pastime

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.

Didn’t We Just Leave This Party?

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.

Spring? Maybe. A Little.

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.

The Ides of March

Snow’s melting, and the Ides of March was just a few days ago. Richard Armour once claimed that was tax season in ancient Rome, but I haven’t been able to verify that yet. I do know that it’s tax season now, assuming one doesn’t want to wait until the last minute, and I certainly didn’t.

So yesterday was tax day for me, and I spent the entire afternoon, easily 4+ hours, putting it together. Since both my wife and I are self-employed, that’s a lot of receipts and a couple of Schedule Cs in addition to the normal forms. Of course, as soon as I emerge her comment is “That didn’t take long.” Felt long to me, until she reminded me, without computer assistance, it used to take a couple of days, an entire weekend,  and that was even before it got as complicated as it is. Yes, I’m old enough to remember doing taxes on paper.  Thank heaven for software and electronic filing.

A good reason to remind oneself: it could always be worse. Even if, in the country’s current situation, it’s hard to imagine how.

The Yamada story has been through First Reader and rewrite, and is currently under submission. Which is pretty much the situation with any story you’re not putting out yourself: hurry up and wait.

I should be thinking about another Yamada collection. I don’t have quite enough uncollected Yamada to do it right now, but it wouldn’t take more than a few more. I’ll find out later if I have those in me. Those currently uncollected are the later ones: “Three Little Foxes,” “The Sorrow of Rain,” “The Tiger’s Turn,” and the new one, working title “Dai-Uzumaki.”