Sunday, March 25, 2012


Well. The open-door draft of the horror novel is complete, the formatting is done, and 10 copies have been ordered from Lulu. Of course I noticed several errors this morning when doing my one-last-chorus roll through the proof version, but they'll be fixed in the next round, if I need a next round. I am so relieved to be done, and really proud of myself for steaming through it in four days.

Although I don't know what else to call it here for the sake of quick reference, calling it "the horror novel" doesn't feel too accurate anymore. When I was first writing I envisioned it as a sort of genre-toasting romp, with delightful gore and a monster under the stairs and calls coming from inside the house and whatnot, but it just didn't come out that way. (I never even managed to put in "I'll be right back." Sad face.) It has a few horror elements, but it's a lot more about the relationships between the characters, and includes a few tablespoons of philosophy about time. Not terribly gory, either. Matt suggested "supernatural thriller", which is about right. He said he was never scared while reading it, but I reminded him that he knew the whole plot, and so knew what would come out okay and what wouldn't.

It's tight. It's ready for an audience. And since I've taken most of a week off from paid work to do it, I'm really pleased to be finished.

Since the poll below has resulted in a dead split, I decided to go with Version 2, the version I wrote originally. I still see Matt's point, but I wrote the danged thing and I liked it the way it was. Thanks to all who participated.

I think I'm going to hold off mostly on further composing until things settle out with our geographical situation. The next pieces of work in front of me are revisions on the Greenland book, which I can't really do until summer because of a grant I applied for (it would be dishonest to do the work the grant is supposed to fund before finding out if I won the grant); plotting out the Marilyn book, which I'm not very enthused about for various reasons; revising a couple of short stories that ended up not winning anything or being accepted, so I can send them out to more places; and writing a few essays and/or stories I've sketched out in my little stained-glass notebook. And the unhappy task of promotional material for the [non-]horror novel - query letters, synopses, elevator pitches, etc.

The Marilyn book is the big project. It stems from a short story I wrote about five years ago, intended to be the first chapter, and while I'm reasonably proud of the story, the idea is really the 24K gold of it. I think it might have been done before, but not by me, and it's an idea wide enough that it should be okay. The thing about it is, all I have is a faint shape of what's going to happen in the book, and I need to come up with a whole cast of characters and a context in which to put the thread of plot I have in mind. The last two books, the Greenland book and the [non-]horror novel, both had tens of thousands of words plunked down, about the first third of them written in years past, and I only had to go back and finish what I'd started. This one has about 2,000 words, tops. So it's a bit overwhelming to think about getting started. It may not make sense, but it feels like I'm heading into an actual different job than the prior one. Like I was a car mechanic for the last two books, and suddenly I'm being asked to work on jet engines.

Revising the stories is not an encouraging prospect. Much as I dislike revising in generally, I really hate revising stories - it feels oddly like a waste of time, and it's so intricate and fiddly. Like watch repair, or bomb defusing. Writing the essays isn't appealing either. I've become intimidated by how much astonishingly good creative nonfiction there is out there, and I feel like my essays make small and inessential points.

Whine, whine. The upshot is, I'm going to leave off new writing except for a few little projects here and there until probably mid-summer, and just bend my head to the money-work for the time being. I might try to plot out the Marilyn novel, but probably not, not until I have to. I sincerely hope that something will happen at the writers' conference in April to kick things into gear for me, but I'm not relying on it. I will have to take the promo stuff for the [non-]horror novel there, though, so I'll be working on that for the next few weeks in between money-work. It is very very hard to write summaries and pitches for your own work, I'm here to tell you. I mean, I wrote 90,000 words because just a paragraph about this topic and characters simply wouldn't do, and now I have to go back to a paragraph? And write it in engaging but non-salesman-y language? Shyeah. Harder than writing the book, dammit.

I am going to take today off of all work except the class I'm teaching. Get back to the grindstone on Monday. Yesterday was a long day; I revised straight from about 12:45 p.m. to about 11:15 p.m. Towards the end I kept yelling down to Matt that "Formatting is FUN!" Because it is not. Not.

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