Writer’s Desk

My apologies for being a day late with this post, dreamers.  Suffice to say a lot has happened.  Over the past few days, it feels as though my life has changed precipitously.  I’ve been checking Twitter more frequently, resisting the urge to check my email compulsively, and all the while I’ve found myself interacting with fellow writers in a way I’d never experienced before.  It’s all been a bit overwhelming, but this is the future.  This was to be expected.  I have another busy week ahead, and here’s what I’ll be up to:

Pitch Wars Update

We’ll start with the big one.  As planned, I submitted to Pitch Wars late Sunday night (technically very early Monday morning).  I sent my query letter, synopsis, and the first chapter (plus the introduction) of Wide Horizon to four prospective mentors.  Now, I wait.

From here, it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take.  Mentees will be announced on October 11, and Pitch Wars has advised all entrants that requests for a full manuscript could come from a mentor any time between now and the very day before the announcement.  It goes without saying that mentors will have a lot of submissions to wade through.  They’re required to read and respond to every submission they receive, and as the submission window doesn’t close until tomorrow night, most have already said they won’t even begin going through their subs until Thursday.  So, from here the waiting game continues.  I sit and check my email every day starting Thursday, in hopes that at least one of the mentors I submitted to will find my initial pitch enticing enough to request a full manuscript.  Once that happens (assuming it does), I resume waiting, in hopes that upon reading my manuscript they decide to take me on as a mentee.

Should that be the case, I would spend October through January working with my mentor, refining my pitch and manuscript for the Agent Showcase in early February.  I may well not make it anywhere near that far; this is my first attempt at publication, after all, and given the sheer volume of applicants the numbers aren’t exactly on my side.  However, from the beginning I’d hoped this would be a learning experience, if nothing more.  And even if my Pitch Wars experience ends in four hard “No”s, I still feel the feedback I’ll receive on my query letter, synopsis, and manuscript will be invaluable moving forward.

The Pioneer

With the Pitch Wars submission complete, work has resumed on my WIP.  Originally, I’d had no idea just how much or little I’d be expected to do for my submission, but as the majority of this process seems to be waiting, I’ve found myself free to resume work on The Pioneer (at least for the moment).

In fact, I’ve been encouraged to do so; a group of fellow Pitch Wars writers have begun a writing challenge, called #WritetheWait, encouraging everyone to start a new project while waiting to hear back (or continue one, in my case).  Heck, I’d already been absolutely loving the process of writing this story.  Now with my fellow writers cheering me on, why wouldn’t I want to keep going?

That being said, though, I’ve no intention of abandoning my process, as it’s worked so well for me thus far.  So, today I begin the next step: full revision of everything so far.  As I’d mentioned, early last week I completed my initial read-through of phases one and two.  While I made a few light revisions, overall it was just to get a feel for how things are going thus far, and overall I was pleased.  Now come the major changes: several areas, most notably the beginning of Phase Two, need some work.  Over the next few days I’ll be reading through and making some major adjustments, while simultaneously doing research for phase three.

Phase three will be exciting, albeit technical at times.  Following their (mostly) successful survey, the three main characters return to the Susan Constant, and soon after the colonists begin landing on the surface and building their new settlement.  The good news is that, at least for the moment, I won’t have to worry about dreaming up more and more alien creatures to populate the valley.  The bad news is that I must now depict the process of building the first settlement on a strange alien world.  Luckily, I feel I’ll find more useful source material for this process, and given my background in engineering I feel this will be more my style.

The real challenge will be the character interactions.  In this chapter, new characters will be introduced: the colonists themselves.  Currently, I plan to have a small group of at least six-to-ten distinct, named colonists, several of whom I’ve already mentioned briefly.  But what should be far more interesting is how the relationship between the three main characters develops once they’re no longer the only three humans stranded on an alien planet.  Once back aboard the Constant, the three will resume their duties as members of the three primary groups of characters: Randall Holmes will rejoin the SAB, Nina Stark will be back on duty as a member of the crew, and William Flanders will rejoin the rest of the colonists.  Thus far, I feel Flanders is the one of the three who’s yet to be fully developed, as Stark was explored in phases one and two and much of phase two was devoted to developing Holmes.  Thus, at least parts of the first few chapters of phase three will likely be told from Flanders’s perspective.

Now frequently separated, with their own purposes to fulfill, it will be interesting to see how these three characters grow and develop together.  I’ll admit, I’m actually somewhat surprised at how this story has developed: while the original focus was to be placed solely on the creation of the colony and the early stirrings of independent sentiment among them, over time the story has been less about an expedition and more about the people.  This new direction was voiced almost word-for-word in phase two, as David Hyde, the leader of the expedition, stated “Colonies are built on people”.

Stories are built on people, too.  That may well have been the most vital lesson I took from writing Wide Horizon.

Short Fiction

Despite appearances to the contrary, I haven’t forgotten about my short fiction.  Indeed, interacting with fellow writers recently has only made me more self-conscious of the fact that my outstanding unfinished projects vastly outnumber my available manuscripts.  I have a lot of good stuff: undeveloped story ideas, half-finished pieces that could really become something special.  Perhaps, over the course of this week that promises to be light on writing and heavy on revision and research, I’ll make the time to work on some of those unrealized realities, and see if I can’t write “THE END” a few times.

 

It’s been a wild couple of days, and it’s only going to get wilder.  Things are changing rapidly, and I couldn’t be happier about that.  Regardless of how everything ultimately shakes out, I will keep writing, keep posting, and hopefully you’ll keep reading. – MK

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