All plans are provisional. Certainly in the wooly, haphazard discipline that is creative writing. My plan had been to devote a few more weeks to refining “Little Gray Birds,” the keystone, capstone, and cornerstone of my Fathers and Sons cycle, and then go back over all of them to make a comprehensive rewrite of each to integrate them more fully and pull the parts into a whole.
And I will do that, only I’m beginning sooner than I expected.
I am always on the prowl for possible venues for my stories. I visit a few sites online that have calls for submissions, and while most of them are opaque because I am usually not familiar with the journal, some list themes they are soliciting for. And that makes them a little more likely because I can see if the story I have ready matches the theme (or can be spun to appear to match it — which has worked more than I would have expected). And so I found one for an upcoming anthology with a theme that I thought was perfect for my F&S story “The Death of Superman.” The trouble was, when I visited the site, I found that their existing anthologies were crime noir and horror, which didn’t look like a fit after all. My stuff carries the pretense of being literary rather than of a genre. But I was intrigued, so I wrote the editor and described my story a little, asking if it could possibly be what the mag was looking for. After a few weeks, after I’d given up thinking I would get a response, the editor wrote back and said the story sounded exactly like what they were seeking.
And so I had found a likely target for “Superman,” which I’ve always been surprised hadn’t found a home yet. I’ve sent it out much in the past, and I really think it is a good bit of writing with two well-presented characters (one present, one in memory), but it never found acceptance. This time it looks as though it has a better chance.
I need to rewrite it. The story, as it exists, is told by a first-person narrator, and it works well that way. But that comprehensive rewrite I want to do will require it to be told in third person. I’ve decided to do that before I send it off to see if the second version is “better” than the first. Better being relative, of course, and perhaps “final” is more correct. Once I have both versions before me, I can decide which I would rather set loose in the wild. Fortunately, the submission deadline for this themed anthology is in August, so I have plenty of time to write the rewrite. (Long-time readers — both of them — may recall that I had written an entire novel in first person before realizing right at the end that it had to be told in third person. I rewrote that beast and had a better novel, which actually got some nibbles from a few agents before the forces of entropy assaulted my ambition and I set it aside. Just as well. Had that been a success at that time, I don’t think I ever would have become the person who could write the Fathers and Sons cycle. Still, I’m a practiced hand at rewriting from first to third.)
So I’ve created a new subfolder on my drive. I’ll put the rewrites there and let them accumulate. And the first one I will do is the first one I ever wrote and the first one in the cycle (though not first in chronology, but it sets up a tension that spans all of the stories). I’ve printed the story on actual paper and I will work from that, transcribing directly into the new file in the new directory. (When I had rewritten that novel, I had two laptops open on the desk before me, reading from one and writing to the other. It was clumsy, and I had to make sure one of the laptops was not online since Microsoft could tell that two identically licensed incarnations of Word were being used and, technically, that wasn’t allowed — though I think it was since both computers were mine and I had paid for the software, but their bots didn’t know that as they scanned the web looking for possible infractions). Thus the paper copy, which is probably better for me anyway. For me, writing isn’t about technology, and while a computer takes a lot of the drudgery out of writing, it still goes on mostly inside my head. The paper document just seems more pleasing.
And so I’m begun on my project sooner than expected, but why not?