First of all, thanks to all of you who bothered to read that bit of flash fiction I posted yesterday, especially to those who made encouraging comments.
The reality is that I’ve been in a distressing position for the last 8 months. Not to go into boring details, suffice it to say I thought I was on a clear path to retire in about 4-5 years, but instead I’m having to consider a job/career change. My energy level has been very low for both physical and emotional reasons. Most days, when I come home, I water the plants, play the piano for a bit (1), maybe cook dinner – and that’s about it. I write on this blog pretty regularly, but do very little other writing. Even reading has been hard. Instead of being a refuge, I find myself putting down stories or even sometimes history if the emotions get too close to home.
This morning, I reread one story I’d finished, gotten all set up to submit to magazines, then decided that either it wasn’t right for what the magazines said they were looking for, or just wasn’t good enough. The writing itself is OK, I’m just not sure enough happens. I’m considering throwing it up here on the blog just to get some feedback.
Also have two longer stories that are oh so close to done, one I like quite a bit, a YA Arthurian story set in modern Wales, wherein I think I got the right blend of funny/serious that, to me at least, characterizes the sort of Arthurian stuff I like. Pelanore on the one hand, Mordred on the other sort of thing. There’s a climactic fight scene at the end that I’ve only fumbled around with. Was going to have one of the good guys killed off, then it just didn’t feel right, but if I don’t, the stakes don’t feel right.
In other words, overthinking the living snot out of it. Imagine. Me, doing that.
The other is one I wrote on a whim, because I made a comment on another blog wherein I gave a semi-frivolous story outline, and the esteemed Jagi Lamplighter commented back she’d like to see how it came out. Well. This story builds to a big, but to me anyway, predictable reveal. It’s supposed to be awesome, where a man with a high opinion of himself discovers he’d seriously misunderstood the world he’s in, which is much larger and more interesting than he had thought. So gotta write awesome. I’m shooting for a Vance-like atmosphere, which I think I kind of got. Lots of social detail and scientific falderal. This one crawled to a halt as I was writing, again, the climactic scene. Here, it’s not a battle, but the reveal made me start to worry over if I’d done the setup right, and – well, I sorta ran out of steam.
There’s a small pile of finished stories that have gone nowhere. One I like so much I’ve rewritten it 3 times. A bit of satire, making fun both of space opera and politics, featuring a fat man in his underwear living alone on a planet made of living mashed potatoes. And it’s works! Darwin features prominently. Not satisfied. One is my one and only submitted (and rejected) story, which I wrote in a couple hours to make a submission deadline. Not too broken up over that.
And a bigger pile of not finished stories. And a few pages of ideas for stories. And the occasional flash fiction idea that usually just wanders by one day without much warning.
And then there’s the Novel That Shall Not Be Named, which consists of dozens of somewhat disjointed pages in search of a sense of direction. Realized recently – or, I should say, it became painfully obvious recently – that I need to flesh out the string of incidents that build toward the climax. I can wing the characters, they’ve been running around in my head for years anyway, but I need the stepping stones that get me from A to Z. Got some, just need it hammered out.
Aaaaand, last but not least, is the book (or two) on the history of catholic education in America and a call to real reform. (Hint: discarding the graded classroom model is the absolute essential first step. If you don’t so that, your reforms have died abirthing.)
So: hope I don’t end up having plenty of time to write but not enough money to retire. That would be bad. California is home, I can’t but think God put me and us here for some reason – probably His inscrutable sense of humor. Therefore, the dump the house and move someplace cheap option seems like chickening out. But if I did that…..
- On the plus side, I can now sorta kinda play the Sonata Pathetique. Still hammering my way through the last few pages of the 1st Movement, but can pretty much play the 2nd and 3rd. Lots of splats and stumbles, but, you know, kind of play it.