Archive for the ‘Fathers and Sons’ category

writing is rewriting

April 26, 2017

and rewriting is hard!

I’ve doubted my One-Match Fire story “Men at Work and Play” for nearly as long as I’ve had it written. It’s full of sweetness and light, and it certainly achieved what I wanted it to when I wrote it — I even got it published — but it never quite felt like it belonged. It was just too nice, and as the stories evolved, I could see that it wasn’t a good fit.

So I’ve been working on it in recent days, not so much to make it bleak and fraught but to change its tone slightly — just enuf to give it the edge it needs and relate it better to later stories in the cycle. In the story (which you can read here if you want) the grandfather, father, and son do some work on the cabin. But in my revision, two of them must also do some work on their relationship since there was an uncharacteristic explosion of anger by one of them. None of that is in the story now, and once I’m finished putting it in, it will be indirectly referenced and only “explained” much later in the cycle of stories (which means I need to tinker with that later story a little too).

Many things are left unsaid in relationships. Many answers are only revealed years, even decades later. I do a little of that in the stories, just as it happens in real life. (For example, I learned only last week that my father had rickets as a boy from malnutrition. Now I understand why he pushed some dietary supplements on us.) I wonder if my oblique references to a “fight” in the story will leave the reader unsatisfied — for the moment. I worry that an agent or editor will want it spelled out more clearly. But I guess that’s part of rewriting, too.

 

“where late the sweet birds sang” debuts, somewhat

April 24, 2017

My One-Match Fire story “where late the sweet birds sang” has now appeared in the real (virtual) world. It was accepted (last summer?) for the Selected Places anthology put out by Simone Press, a British publisher seeking stories where place is a dominating factor. My story takes place at the family cabin in the Missouri Ozarks (and in the protagonist’s mind), and I suspect (not having read the anthology yet) that I am the “exotic” component to the anthology, the rest likely being works set within the United Kingdom.

I’ve written about this here and here (when the story was still titled “The Death of Superman” and the anthology was still titled Pulled by Place).

The anthology is an ebook, available through Amazon. As a contributor, I will get a free copy to download to my Kindle, which rests forlornly on the shelf beside me. There is actually a window (late next month) when I will be able to download my free copy. And I shall.

But when I went to the site recently, I saw that there will also be a print edition. And surely I needed to have that to hold in my quaking hands! (The shelf of lit journals with my stories in them is slowly filling; I must add this physical document, n’est-ce pas?) So I began the process of ordering it through Amazon. The cost was displayed in British pounds, and I had no idea what the equivalent amount was in good old American dollars, but that wasn’t going to stop or slow me at all. I made my order and pressed the SEND button. When the confirmation email arrived, I learned that I has just spent $23 (and some change) on a paper copy of a document I will get free in virtual form.

But I don’t mind!

persistence in the face of withering rejection

April 12, 2017

In three days I’ve received three rejections for stories I had sent out. All three were for chapters from One-Match Fire that I thought stood on their own well enuf to be considered discrete stories. The rejection emails were form letters, assuring me that such decisions are objective subjective and that my stories very likely will find worthy homes elsewhere. But one of the rejections did have a two-sentence, story-specific comment inserted. Basically it said that nothing happened by the end of the story.

The story was “Moving Day” and something very specific does happen in the story, in the context of the whole novel. And that was the problem. This story, I suspect, can’t really stand alone outside of the novel. It plays an important role in the novel, but only as a part of it.

So, lesson learned. Maybe. If I see a call with a theme that might align with “Moving Day” I’ll send it out again. I’m just that way.

__________

I was going to title this post “nonetheless, he persevered” but I didn’t want to co-opt that cultural meme. It’s already doing far more worthy work.

breaking the cycle of sloth

March 13, 2017

I’ve continued to dip my toe into the waters of manuscript submission. I’ve sent queries and sample pages or chapters to several more agents to see if they might be interested. So far my efforts have earned me one rejection,* but it was a kindly written, personal email, so my ego held up.

At this point I’m trying to target my submissions, finding agents who seem as though they represent the kind of literary fiction I imagine One-Match Fire to be. I’m using an online service called Agent Query, which is a huge database that is sortable to some extent. It lets me believe I am targeting my submissions, but I can’t go much deeper than finding agents who are interested in “literary fiction” and/or “family sagas.” (I’m not even sure what they mean by “family sagas” though I expect it’s more the bodice-ripping Harlequin romance type stuff than my tale of a grandfather, a father, and a son over forty years. Still, it’s something to try.) This is further hampered by many of the listed agents not taking on new clients at the moment and/or only taking queries in the form of snail mail. I suppose that latter qualification quickly weeds out those who are using the scattershot method of submission that email makes more easy to do. The trouble is, it can also weed out those of us who tend toward sloth.

I’m self aware enuf to know that I have trouble pulling the trigger. I can take years to write a novel and then blanch at the effort of actually submitting. It isn’t even much effort, but I think that my fragile ego is what’s really on the line. In any case, I guess I’ll keep on trying.

 

 

*Make that two, now.

 

“Runaway” appears

March 6, 2017

aethlon

My One-Match Fire story “Runaway” has finally appeared in the physical world. I received my copy of Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature over the weekend, and “Runaway” was in it (way back on page 209 of 228). I had first written about this back in November in this post. And I’ve been waiting more or less patiently for the print copy ever since.

This is volume 32.1 of the publication, but it’s dated Fall 2014 / Winter 2015. I’m not complaining, but that seems a little odd. (I suspect they need to show continuous publication, and that period was the next to be filled.)

inertia

February 24, 2017

Okay, so I sent out a query to an agent this morning for One-Match Fire. My inertia is broken. You have to be sanguine about these things, even though you know the odds are astronomically not in your favor. But you have to begin somewhere.

Now that it’s done, I suppose it will be easier for me to begin sending out more queries for the novel. Sometimes this part of the effort seems harder than the actual creative writing.

__________

I’m still reading White-Jacket. It’s a long voyage and the ship is now at anchor in Rio de Janeiro where the sailors are chafing at getting too little and too much shore leave. Melville is writing a humorous tale, but it is clear that just below the surface he is railing about the injustices and inhumanity of the Navy in those days. In fact, when the novel was published, a copy was given to each member of Congress and, I’ve read, it was instrumental in getting flogging banned as a punishment aboard U.S. ships. I’m enjoying every word, but I’ll be glad when I’ve finished the novel and I can move from the 19th Century and into something more contemporary.

__________

I crossed the 200-mile mark in my running two days ago. With the cold weather, I’ve done most of those miles on treadmills. But in the unseasonably warm days of late, I’ve been going outside for my miles. The transition from treadmill to pavement has been rough on my poor legs and lungs. The treadmill presents a continuous pace on a forgiving surface. The pavement, not so much. I constantly find myself going too “fast” to sustain, and my legs — especially my quadriceps — ache afterward. I don’t remember this much trouble in past years. Not sure why that is.

__________

I’m making some progress with the story I’m now calling “Stargazing and Eavesdropping.” A couple more scenes and I should have the first draft finished. Still no news on the status of the various stories I have out in submission.

betwixt

February 1, 2017

I don’t have much going on right now to report, gentle reader.

I’m between major projects. One-Match Fire is, I think, complete (though I am flirting with adding another story). I am poking at writing a query letter to begin sending it out, but I choke up because it is so important to get it right, and that will never happen.

I have an idea for a new novel blossoming in my head. It’s pretty much taking up all of my attention. Unlike One-Match Fire, which is not always happy but at least resolves warmly in the end, this novel would be grim and harrowing. It would be completely unlike anything I’ve ever written, and yet it is forcing itself into my mind, will I or nill I.

I’m not sure what to do about that. It’s too early to begin writing it (though I have worked out a couple of passages already), so I can let it gestate and continue to present itself to me. But I’m actually afraid of it. It’s not a nice story, and I don’t want to go where I would have to go (research) to be able to flesh out parts of the story.

So I thought I should go back to one of my Finnegans novels — the murderless cozy mysteries I want to write a series of, and for which I first began this humble blog. (This one deals with running a half marathon, too.) While fun, with intricate plots, they are not fraught with emotion and generational intrigue like One-Match Fire is. And they are a polar opposite to this new idea I have. So my thought is that if I devoted my efforts to one of those novels, I could either dissipate the urge to write that monster, or I could let it evolve sufficiently so that I could begin working on it properly once the Finnegans novel is in the can. (A large part of me wants the former to happen.)

I’ve said here before that it sometimes seems as though the stories exist “out there” and we writers are given glimpses of them so that we can put them down. If that’s truly the case, then I must have sinned grievously in a past life to be punished with this newest story idea.