Writer’s Desk

Things seem to be moving faster by the day now.  Each day I find the urge to keep writing harder and harder to resist, to the point where it’s become a struggle to keep to my usual routine of revising a chapter the day after I’ve written it.  Luckily, it’s gotten to the point where all I really want to do with my free time is keep writing.  As such, I’ve adopted a new, more compressed, far more intense routine, but I’ve been loving every last second of it.  This is a lot of fun.

There is, of course, much to do, and these next few weeks will be hectic for me, both in my writing and life in general.  One things for sure, though: given the way things have been going recently, my writing output will not decrease.  I can’t stop now, even if I wanted to.

That being said, here’s what I’ll be up to this week:

The Pioneer

I just keep falling further and further in love with this story.  I love every second of writing it.

As I mentioned, the pace of my writing has increased yet again, and as such a lot has happened since my last regular post.  At this point, Randall Holmes and his advance party have been on the surface of Phecda IX for three days, but a lot has happened since they landed, their exploits thus far culminating in a harrowing encounter with a massive apex predator, leaving one of them seriously injured.

While that is certainly grim, I’m happy to see how well the story has developed; how each new chapter unfolds in a manner that sets up what’s to come.  Originally, I’d intended their encounter with the predator (a massive, scarlet-feathered theropod) to be wholly unexpected, over the past few stories I instead managed to to a bit of foreshadowing, giving the reader a mounting sense of dread.  That, I will admit, gave me a certain sense of perverse pleasure.

Just a few minutes ago, I completed the most recent chapter (which I began last night).  This chapter serves as something of a calming interlude, while also answering the question “So what’s going on aboard the Susan Constant now?”  It also allowed me to provide some clarification, as well as give the reader their first, painful glimpse at the aftermath of the last chapter’s events.

Later this evening, I will be starting work on the next chapter, appropriately titled “Aftermath”.  In this chapter, the three members of the survey party continue the process of picking up the pieces, both proverbially and literally (the theropod ransacked their camp in search of food), and formulate a new plan of action.

All of this leads to what I anticipate will be the final 3-4 chapters of Phase Two.  With Flanders still recovering and unable to walk unaided, Holmes and Stark will be forced to set off alone to survey the final two sites of the five selected for potential settlement.  These chapters will help to form a deep bond between these two central characters; a bond that will ultimately take an unexpected, intimate turn.

At the moment, my plan and ardent hope is to complete Phase Two well before the end of the week.  Just a few weeks ago, I’d have said that writing 3-5 chapters by Thursday would be unrealistic; now I’m not so sure.  Just yesterday, I managed to write a full chapter and a half, the first of which was one of the most jarring, action-packed chapters I’ve laid down thus far.  That in mind, I no longer feel wrapping up this phase of the novel by Thursday lies safely beyond the realm of possibility.

Wish me luck.

Wide Horizon

For the past four to five days or so, I’d been resisting the urge to press on after completing my daily chapter.  It was difficult, and ultimately my frustration with my own system culminated in my finally working on Wide Horizon.

I only managed a few pages or so of a planned scene that would replace a full two chapters or so, but through that brief spurt I learned two important things:

  1. can do this.  Though I had feared I’d end up trying to make Wide Horizon sound more like The Pioneer, instead I found myself slipping easily back into the more verbose, dramatic language of my debut novel.  The characters, the setting…everything was still there.
  2. cannot do Wide Horizon justice while actively writing The Pioneer.  The words came easily, the flow was there.  I knew exactly what I wanted to say and how to get there, but try as I might, my heart just wasn’t in it.  Knowing that I knew exactly where The Pioneer was going next, I just couldn’t resist the urge to go back.

It was disheartening.  I have loved Wide Horizon from the moment I started it, but I truly believe in The Pioneer.  Perhaps I can’t fight against personal bias; while Wide Horizon is, I believe, a great story, The Pioneer is the sort of science fiction I would personally choose to read.  It’s grounded, at times gritty.  It’s rooted in accepted science.  It’s believable.  So in the end, it’s tough to find new ways to tell an old story when I truly believe I have a much better one to tell.

In the end that just isn’t fair, to Wide Horizon or to myself.  Wide Horizon was the story that started it all: it’s the story that made me a writer, the one that proved that I could, in fact, write a novel.  Because, however objectively good or bad it actually is, I wrote it.  I did the thing.  As such, I owe my debut novel my full attention and best efforts.  But while I resisted the urge to go back to Wide Horizon a few months ago out of fear of losing interest in The Pioneer, now I find myself refusing to go back because I simply don’t want to.

The more I think about it, the more I realize my burning desire to keep working on The Pioneer stems from the sense that I’ve left something unfinished, something unsaid.  Prior to starting work on Phase One, I devoted over a week to hard research, preparing myself for what was to come, and during that time I managed to put in quality work on several outstanding projects.  Thus, for now, my plan is to spend the next few days doing exactly what I want to do: working like mad to reach the end of Phase Two.  With another quarter of the novel in the books, extensive research and uncharted waters ahead, I believe I’ll finally be able to divert my full attention to making the necessary changes to Wide Horizon.

Short Fiction

As this is already a very long post, I’ll try to keep this brief.  As I haven’t had time to do much short fiction work lately, that shouldn’t be difficult.

While I still have a great many long-standing projects out there, lately all of my efforts have been devoted to my novels.  Given the busy month I have ahead of me, that’s unlikely to change any time soon.  Hopefully at some point in the next few weeks I’ll find at least enough time to crank out a short story to post here during the first week of September, but at this juncture even that might be a stretch.

Not wanting to feel idle, I did indeed ship Going Dark out for publication, this time to Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Their current reported turnaround is about four days, so with any luck I’ll hear something by the end of the week.  If that something is “no”, the next step will be to try my luck with Escape Pod.  They had nice things to say about Presence when I last submitted to them.  I had considered that my finest work of short fiction, but given what I’ve heard from various editors regarding Going Dark, that may not be the case.  We shall see.

Work continues apace.  Though I’ve already completed a chapter tonight, that’s not likely to be the end for me.  I’ll keep writing, so long as my readers keep reading. – MK

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