Not Quite All

Fan mail is not so common that I get blasé about it. Last week I got a message from a gentleman who had read all the Yamada books, loved them, and was wondering if there would be any more. So far as the novels go, the short answer is “no.” By no, of course, I mean probably not, because I’m no better at predicting the future than anyone else, and that includes many futurists.

To my own surprise, I knew Yamada would be a series when I wrote the first ever short story (“Fox Tails)” set in his version of Heian Period Kyoto (called Heian-kyo, up until his time). Furthermore, I knew the series had a definite story arc from the time I wrote the second ever Yamada story, “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge.” Every story since then progressed along that arc until it was concluded in The Emperor in Shadow, the fourth book.

Now here’s where it gets complicated. Life stories, as in the story of anyone’s life, also have an arc. There’s a point where you enter the story, and inevitably, a point where you leave it. But here’s the difference—the story itself doesn’t end. It just continues with new people. Fiction isn’t like that. I thought Yamada had left the story, and that was that so far as the series was concerned. It wasn’t.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently wrote a new Yamada story. That was a total surprise to me. Now I think I may do a few more. He’s not quite done, and so neither am I. Together with the stories so far uncollected, I do imagine another Yamada collection is possible, but another novel? Seems like a long shot right now. I almost wish I could give a definitive yes or no, but the truth is I don’t really know, and I can’t pretend that I do.

As for the novella project (totally non-Yamada), I have two more major scenes to write after working backward to tackle some structural issues. This too could be a series. I don’t know that, either.

 

Almost There

The project is approaching conclusion. It’s not there yet, but I feel it’s past its crisis point and will be completed to the first draft stage soon. Which is not really completed, of course. Lots to do after that before it’s done and available, but now I feel confident it’ll get there.

I was beginning to wonder. Right now I’m projecting the final length to be about 35k, decent novella size. I’ve written complete novels in just under three months, and I’ve been working on this one for over six. It shouldn’t have taken this long. Only it did, and my fussing about it now won’t change anything.

When searching for a little perspective, I remind myself that my very first novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day) took five years to write. The extra time did not make for a better book, but I learned a lot. The second was better, both for quality and time. I forget who said that no writing is ever wasted. I”m sure that’s true, because it’s the process that teaches you, not the final result. That’s just the grade.

 

Present, With an Explanation

I’m late, by a whole day. It was almost two.

It couldn’t be avoided. We had to make a trip to Saratoga Springs yesterday because First Reader is getting stem cell treatment in her wonky knees. We figured we’d take a shot at rebuilding the knees almost from scratch rather than proceeding directly to the bionic route of joint replacement. We’ll see how it turns out, but the treatments require a trip to the clinic, about an hour and a half from here, plus treatment time so we didn’t get back to very late.

Today, had to make a trip to Utica to replace a piece of online equipment that was malfunctioning. Then make a return trip via the scenic route because our GPS doesn’t distinguish between “most direct” and “easiest.” Regardless, we got some lovely views of the Mohawk Valley from the surrounding hills. Reminded us just how beautiful the place we live is.

Anyway, more an explanation than an actual blog post. I will say the current project is showing signs of life, but I was wrong about it in one regard—I thought it was a novel. Now I’m convinced it’s going to be a novella, maybe in 30k range. I’ll know for sure in the next ten pages or so. Either way, whatever it is,  I’ll try to make it a good one.

 

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.