My sincere thanks to recent commenter VC, whose comments reminded me I, y’know, have a blog.
Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging. Adore it. I’ve been writing on the web since before the word “blog” existed, and then I fought against it for years (coded my own sites with the HTML, thank you, just when stylesheets were hitting the scene). I don’t self-censor as much, and I believe in reflection. The fiction I write is reflective, though sometimes I don’t see the traces of myself in it until years later.
Case in point.
The New Born Year is shaping up to be one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. And I say that during the writing of all books, with few exceptions (I don’t like comparing books to children, but this is reminiscent of that; each one must, at a certain moment, be the one I look at adoringly, without complexity). But this one? God, I don’t know, this book is a love story to myself, maybe a promise.
It’s been a crazy-ass year, and it’s not over yet, but when I transport to the land of this story, it’s New Years, and I just keep thinking of how much has changed for me in the last twelve months. This time last year I had no intention to independently publish. I was about six months into keeping track of my daily word count (and watching it climb), and I’d written the first drafts of all the Scientific Method books through The Honeymoon.
But I couldn’t get The Scientific Method itself to work. I’d massively overhauled it twice, but the flow wasn’t there, and it was painful. I kept returning to Will and Hugh over and over again, running in place. I tried first person, I tried telling the entire thing from a totally outside point of view (and then failed, adding in bits of Will’s and Hugh’s POV whenever I felt like it). And those hundreds of thousands of words (and three or four years) of returning to that story taught me something.
Some stories need to be told. Some stories will hunt your sorry scribbling ass down and fucking insist, and you should pay very close attention to those stories, even when you don’t think they’ll ever work, even when they aren’t marketable, even when they’re fucking sad. (I’m looking at you, Breaking Down. None of you would have ever read that book if Lucie Le Blanc hadn’t kicked my ass into publishing it. She said a very wise thing, which I’ve allowed to guide some of the hardest bits of writing I’ve done since, which is this: it’s okay to make people uncomfortable. You’d think I would find this obvious, but I needed to hear it from someone else in order to hit “Publish” on Breaking Down.)
I write this a few minutes after hitting “Publish” on the new thing, my top secret serial project. I don’t feel real confident about this format. It worked gorgeously for TSM; the second I thought of each piece as an “episode” instead of a “chapter,” the whole fucking thing pulled together, and I wrote the final draft of it–the one you all can download for free–in less than a month. (Whoa. I just impressed myself. Go, me. And yes, I did just pause to reference my word count spreadsheet: age of the geek, baby!) Little Red and the Big Bad is stressing me out because the pieces are so damn short I wouldn’t pay for them, but then again, they’re fucking hot, and I love Red and Bad like I’ve known them for years.
Make that: I love Red and Bad like I could keep writing them for years to come, which is even better than knowing them for years already.
(Note to Kindle Unlimited subscribers: these stories, alone of all my books, will be available to you lot for borrowing or reading or whatever it’s called. At least, I think they will be.)
Also, the covers aren’t quite working for me yet, but they’re almost doing what I want them to do. I’m gonna keep playing with them.
The point I was reaching for was this: in October, 2014 I wouldn’t have ever imagined today. I wouldn’t have considered writing a serial (because I don’t read them), I was way too intimidated by covers and investment to even consider self-publishing, and I was watching my hours at the day job dwindle with a very real sensation of dread. (Here in the civilized US of A, we have extraordinarily expensive childcare for younger-than-school-age children, which puts those of us scraping by in a bit of a bind. I wonder sometimes about how much depression and anxiety is caused by the constant strain of attempting to pay bills and eat while also being a fully present caregiver.)
This time last month I wouldn’t have ever imagined today. I still didn’t consider myself a writer of serials, I had a production schedule with a serious pressure gauge, and there was no earthly way I could justify stealing more time from parenting to write something unforeseen.
Then this story tagged me in, and I told it I’d only give it what I could spare after completing my obligations to the books I’ve already promised. And the story responded by being hotter than hell, and showing up in chunks short enough to write as fast as possible, eyes closed, after the kid was asleep and before I could no longer stay awake. You guys have Lucie to thank for this one, too. Some people send flowers when a friend’s had a bad day; I send porn. I know. I’m a keeper.
I’ve officially blown the time I allotted for this post (closing in on the end of The New Born Year now, and this is maybe the first book I’ve written since I was fifteen that has that shiny new-book smell, like it might be picture fuckin’ perfect hot off the presses–oh, shut up, no, obviously I know it’s not, but because it so rarely happens that I like something this much when I’m done with it, I’ll allow myself to dream). I also owe a podcast or five, and a site revamp to make things easier to find. But right now? I’m gonna go write Hugh Reynolds being perceptive, because god, there’s not much I like more than writing Hugh going all shrink-like. (I got teary writing this story the other day. Hugh makes a speech, and talks briefly about how he thought his life would go, and how it took a very different path, and I literally teared up, like I was reading something I didn’t write, say, twelve hours earlier.)
My thanks to VC for reading the blog (and friending me on the GoodReads machine, which I haven’t been to in many days). My thanks, as always, to Lucie for her unconditional support, and to General Wendy, for telling me to remove entire subplots and then forgiving me for not doing so. (I’m not gonna tell her I call her that, either. I’m just gonna wait till she gets bored some time and stumbles upon this post. [rubs hands together gleefully]) What a strange, incredible year it’s been.
(I really do feel like it’s New Years. I also get transported to locations. I once finished a novel, which ended with a beach bonfire, on a rainy December night in County Kerry, only to discover I’d thrown off my blankets and was now shivering, huddled over my computer as if it dispensed heat.)
Folks who have an inclinations toward serials might enjoy Little Red and the Big Bad, out every Thursday from now till mid-January on Amazon. For everyone else: I’m finishing revisions on the thing I’ve been calling “the Maizy book,” which it only kind of is, and beginning revisions on Home for the Holidays, colloquially known as “How I Survived Thanksgiving with my Parents, by Rory Fairbanks.” And The New Born Year, my current love, will be out towards the end of November. I should shower now. Showering. I remember prioritizing showers over fiction and sleep. Vaguely…