Today I was pleased to discover that a story I’d submitted for Quarter 1 of the Writers of the Future Contest has been awarded an Honourable Mention! This is definitely one of the nicest ways of saying “I’ll pass” that I’ve come across so far. I’m very proud of this story and remain optimistic that it’ll find a great home some day soon, but receiving this little nod is a nice reassurance all the same. In the meantime, my Q2 story is already waiting patiently for David Farland to judge it, and I guess I’ll have to pull my finger out and write something to enter in Q3 soon. Congrats and good luck to the finalists!
It’s been a relatively quiet time recently, I think because I’ve been a bit more consistent with aiming high up the food chain this year where fiction submissions are concerned. The responses have been sporadic and often a long time coming. But silence on the submission front doesn’t mean silence on the “getting actual words down on the page” front. In March I managed to finish up three new short stories and start sending them out into the world, and I’ve spent the bulk of April engaged in a big scary novel–a Young Adult Fantasy that takes place in a secondary world modelled on the Roman Republic.
This is my third attempt at a novel. The first took ten years to outline, write, and rewrite until I was finally ready to call it “done.” The second, by contrast, was a NaNoWriMo project that was written in a month flat. Both taught me valuable lessons. The first: that there is such a thing as too much planning, too much researching, and too much tinkering. Eventually, you have to call time and get on with the next big thing. It would have been nice if I’d been slightly quicker off the mark to figure that out, but still. The second: that I’m useless at making things up as I go! Some writers thrive on that–on laying once sentence in front of the next like railroad in front of a speeding train, discovering the story and the characters as they write. After a dizzying month of 2000+ word days, I had no idea where I’d ended up, but it was a scary, alien place where nothing quite made sense and every road had a “No Entry” sign hanging above it. Why didn’t I think to bring a map along with me?
So here we are with novel #3, and I think I’ve found a happy medium. A good, solid outline with enough space around the edges for situations to grow organically, and for the intricacies of the story to remain shrouded enough that I’m still able to be surprised by the places the characters take me. After spending much of April outlining, the words are now flying onto the page. I’m averaging 3000 words a day, which for me is something approaching the miraculous. Many of those words might even be salvageable, too! I’ll have to give a shout out to Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method here, which has been invaluable for me with this one.
In other news, the humorous speculative fiction anthology Alternate Hilarities from Strange Musings Press, in which my story “The Great Abyss Disjunction” appears, is now available to purchase in both paperback and ebook formats.