Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In like a lamb, out like a lion

What strange weather we've been having lately.

New comics, short story, EarthBound writeup, employment, reading, attempts at a social life. Busy. I hope I can't be blamed for not having a blog post prepared for this week.

So yeah: the project at the front of the queue is a short story. The idea has been incubating for a few months, and short fiction pieces are one of the more practical projects for a person who'd like to have a novel or two published legitimately during his lifetime. The gatekeepers of the publishing world are a lot more likely to respond to your supplications if you can point to other stuff of yours that's already been in print. Getting a novel published can be tricky (as we've discussed voluminously elsewhere), but there are plenty of respectable literary periodicals open to reading and publishing unsolicited short pieces. Good for résumés now; good for anthologies later. That's the hope, anyway.

One problem: I suck at writing short stories. Not once in my life have I completed one satisfactorily. I have attempted two in the past three years, and both turned into the initial drafts of novels. (One of which became The Zeroes.)

This one is different. I know exactly where it begins, where it ends, and what happens in the middle. It occurs in the span of a week rather than across months or years. I'm deliberately constraining its scope and focusing on accomplishing one or two "small" things instead of trying to pitching some billowing tent of a statement upheld by a few dozen smaller themes. Intentionally narrowing what a piece will say/do is hard enough; but the standard of efficiency demanded by a short story borders on unreasonable. (In light of this, I guess I can understand why auto company executives sweat and shift in their seats when legislators murmur about tightening fuel economy regulations. Trying to tweak an engine to do 15% more work with the same amount of fuel can't be much unlike building a story -- which is a kind of machine in itself -- capable of delivering and driving a psychic nail into a person's neocortex with only 7,000 words.)

The word count for the incomplete rough draft is somewhere around 7,500. I want to keep it below 8,000 -- but the absolute cap is 10,000 words. In any case, it won't be easy -- especially since I'm trying to write something with a happy ending. Would you be very surprised if I said I consistently have trouble with those? (For some reason I can never seem to paint them convincingly enough.)

Speaking of stories, my sister Beth messaged me a few days ago. "Hey bro," she said. "I designed a cover for your book."

She stressed that it's just a mockup and that I could get sued for using these flyers without permission. But holy shit. I am quite literally stopping the presses. I feel pretty comfortable putting off making the print version available for another week or two if I can have this (or something like it) on the cover.

In other news, April begins next week. You know what that means: NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! I hope you're as excited about it as I am. I've been scouring the library downstairs and rummaging through friends' bookshelves to find some groovy and penetrating verses to share with you all.

Postscript: I'm probably going to keep the ads just for their entertainment value. What relevance does Google think this post has to antidepressants and birth defects?

Don't answer that.


  1. I got 3 adds on book publishing and 1 about Google+. Also 1 for ITT tech.

  2. Cover looks good, other than the title being spelled wrong. :p

    1. Yeah -- what a waste. If only there was a way to edit digital images somehow :<

  3. If it is of any relevance, I was born July 21st, 1987, the date at the top of the cover...