Posted tagged ‘one-match fire’

still working on “Spring Fever”

July 6, 2018

I’ve been working mightily all week on my story “Spring Fever” and I think it have it more or less muscled into shape. It currently sits at 4,400+ words, which ain’t bad for a short story, but it’s bigger than I expected. Still, I can’t find an ounce of fat on it.

I’ve also done some work in the One-Match Fire story “Little Gray Birds” that is related to this, trimming and changing as necessary to get the stars aligned betwixt them.

I’ll continue to read “Spring Fever” and find ways to hone it, but I think it’s nearly whole, and I have a market in mind for it already.

Satisfaction from my writing efforts. Imagine that!

Also, here’s a mushroom rock in western Kansas. (I did not deface it.)

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betwixt

June 25, 2018

I find myself in that in-between place again. I have three stories I’m working on at the moment, and though some part of my brain thinks this is probably counterproductive — my creative “genius” being diluted across too many efforts — another part of me says that words are words, and if I can get them down in any fashion or location, I should call it a win.

I’m about three-fourths finished with the first draft of Finnegans Fogbound, a novel-length ambition and something I had embarked on to give myself a break from all of the fraught, literary anguishing I was doing with my One-Match Fire stories. The Finnegans novels are more light weight works, something like cozy mysteries that, while demanding in their own way, can be written without too much personal investment (if that makes sense). I don’t make literary references in them; I don’t strive for some profound, controlling metaphors or psychological insights that span Western civilization. Thus, a break.

But I may have stalled on that story. I’m not sure. I certainly know where the plot needs to go. I have all of the characters in place and developed nicely. I have all of the pieces on the table before me, but I can’t seem to bring myself to finish putting together the puzzle. I suspect it’s temporary and I’m just feeling the daunting demands of a novel-length effort. So I seem to have taken a break from the break I was taking.

And find myself back in the One-Match Fire universe after all. I’m making some decent progress on a story called “Spring Fever” which I think I’ve mentioned here before. It’s a love story, and I don’t write many of those, but I found I needed to get the points of this story worked out so I could revise a different story: “Little Gray Birds” which is part of the One-Match Fire novel and which I realized I needed to refine so I could consider that novel finished and ready to submit to scary agents. (You’re following all of this, right?) “Little Gray Birds” takes place after “Spring Fever” so what happens in the latter affects the telling of the former. Thus once I get “Spring Fever” worked out, I will go back to “Little Gray Birds” and hone/refine/enhance it and call it good.

So I’m busy with that.

And I’m still riding the creative wave of that story “MTWTF” about an incident in my distant and murky past (highly fictionalized in the story) and find myself making notes — even writing bits of story — about one of the characters in “MTWTF.” Clearly I have more to say about this person and need to write another story to do it. (“MTWTF” is not yet published, and it’s being read by a trusted friend now.) Thoughts intrude, and I don’t mind making notes about future work while they occur to me. I can see the structure of the story — it’s really just a character sketch using a day-in-the-life structure to hang it on — and I know the character, so the ideas are coming fast and frenzied. It’s not a bad state to be in if you’re a writer, I suppose.

So if I’m not too diluted and dissipated by my creative ferment, a few good things should result in the coming days. Fingers crossed.

 

ferment of spring

June 11, 2018

So I’ve been in NYC for the last few days (home again soon) and wondering if lightning might strike twice, that I might write a whole story because there must be something magical or psychological about being out of my routine and my element, the way this has happened a few times in my past.

And so, without much in the way of specific intent, I opened the file of notes I’ve been keeping about a love story I want to write as part of the collection that will comprise the sequel to One-Match Fire. (No developments there though.) So the story has had the working title of “Spring Fever” (to somehow companion with a yet-to-be-written story I’ll call “Cabin Fever”), and this story, which I intend to be the first in the collection, will make clear what the central conflict was in OMF (if the perceptive reader doesn’t figure it out). And I think this is why OMF has been languishing; I’ve needed to nail down some bits in this story in order to refine the ending of OMF so that I can consider it finished once and for all.

So on my first freakishly early morning, in the house that was still quiet despite a latent frenzy in the form of a toddler and twin nearly one-year-olds, I began the story. Exhausted after writing about 113 words, I figured my ambition was unrealistic. But the house remained quiet and the laptop remained open and some further words followed. I ended my first day of writing at more than 600 words. I hadn’t even introduced the love interest yet, but I achieved a kind of momentum.

And so on the second morning, I returned to the story, added even more words, brought in the love interest, and doubled my word count. By the third morning I had more than 2,000 words, many of them pretty good and in decent order. Even so, I don’t think I’ve gotten to the meat of the story yet; it’s all lighthearted so far.

Regardless, it’s begun and I expect I’ll stay with it (even after I return to the Midwest) and get the thing whole written, just not all outside of my comfort zone. And that’s a good thing.

called “Three Small Words”

January 2, 2018

You’ve seen this photo of me on the humble blog before. Sometime in my early years I was afflicted with something that was severe enuf to get me hospitalized. The only person still alive who was around at the time (aside from myself, of course) is my mother (and my older brother and my younger twin sisters), and she’s vague on the details any more. Years ago, when I first came upon this photo in a dusty album, she told me I had pneumonia, though maybe she said whooping cough. Now she is no longer sure.

I keep this photo on my desk and see it every day. The mystery of it has affected me deeply. (I’m hoping whatever the affliction was, hasn’t.) As you may recall, I used a photo like this as a MacGuffin in one of my One-Match Fire stories: “Moving Day.” The son finds a picture of his father in a similar circumstance, and it basically sets the course of his life. (“Moving Day” will be published in THEMA Literary Journal this summer.)

In that story universe, I’m revisiting the photo in a new story that I’m calling “Three Small Words.” The son, now an adult, has reason to think that there may be some very long-term consequences to whatever had afflicted his father a half century before. But with no one around to tell him what it was (his father having no memory since he was only a few months old at the time) he has to begin his research blindly.

Similarly, I have made a few tentative steps toward finding out whatever had afflicted me. I asked my mother what hospital I would likely have been in and she told me it would have been where she had trained as a nurse. So I called the medical records department at that hospital and asked about documentation from more than a half century ago. I was met with barely suppressed laughter. The woman I spoke with said that any records predating 2005 had been long since destroyed. I suspect that’s not wholly true but patient confidentiality laws being what they are, I’m finding that hospitals are pretty tight lipped about all of this. (I’ll try a different route later. It may be that the records were microfilmed or digitized and I could still have access to my information.) Early in my St. Louis life I was hospitalized again with appendicitis. I’ve wondered if my record from that event might contain a reference to my earlier hospitalization, and so I’ve inquired at that hospital as well. So far, no response.

I intend to use my frustrations in the story, my character coming up against the same brick walls. And since the photo is only the MacGuffin, finding the information is not nearly as important as the quest.

the unbearable creativity of distance

November 27, 2017

Depending on when you are reading this, I may be several miles above the planet, winging my way home from Seattle. My visit was circumscribed by the needs (demands?) of a fussy almost two-year-old, so I didn’t do much in the way of sight seeing or touristy stuff. (Nor did I go running, though had I wanted, it happened that the Seattle Marathon took place while I was in town. The day was filled with ominous clouds and frequent rain and plummeting temperatures, but despite such delightful conditions, I could not have done anything respectable with that distance right now.)

I did, however, manage to finish two stories. (I am as amazed as you are!) The first is the story I’d mentioned recently called “Forest Succession.” I’ve already sent it to a trusted reader, and I’m feeling good about it. It is not part of the One-Match Fire novel, but it does deal with many of the characters in there, though much later than the time period the novel covers. (I have a vague notion of writing a sequel to that collection.)

The second is a wholly new story that I’m calling “The Kick” and that is unrelated to anything I’ve written, though it is about running, sort of. I’ve often growled at the word count limit of many publications. A thousand words just doesn’t seem enuf to tell a solid story; the shortest of mine start at more than twice that number. Yet “The Kick” comes in at just over one thousand words, so maybe I finally have a contender. It’s only a first draft, of course, so it is likely to change.

I didn’t have much trouble adjusting to the two-hour time difference in Seattle (though the evenings were tough). Since I am naturally an early riser, I had no trouble with that part of the day; I actually had to sleep in. And since the household was quiet in the early hours, and since I had copious amounts of iced tea (unsweetened, of course), I found myself before my laptop with my ideas in my head, and the words flowed.

So this leaves me with the question, do I need to travel long distances and be in unfamiliar places in order to write? Does it do something to stimulate my creative ferment?

“Moving Day” has found a home!

October 10, 2017

My One-Match Fire story “Moving Day” has been accepted by THEMA Literary Journal and will appear in the Summer 2018 issue next June.

I had submitted the story last June (by snail mail!) and had nearly forgotten that I did. I responded to a themed call for submissions — the theme being “The Face in the Photo” — and sent this story since a photo plays a critical role in it and in the plot of the novel, actually directing the course of one character’s life in part. You can read about my submission in this old post.

So I have a small, one-page contract to sign and return and I’ll get one copy of the printed journal (next June) as well as actual payment of $25! Aside from the 15 cents I got for one story (a Buffalo nickel and a Liberty dime), this is the first time I’ve ever been paid for my fiction. (Actually, not quite true. I was promised $10 for a story years ago, but the check never arrived.)

This is the seventh One-Match Fire story to see publication — that’s one-third of the whole novel — and my twenty-fifth story published.

I had been reviewing my various outstanding submissions in the tracking function at Duotrope’s Digest that very morning and was sad when I learned that I had not seen a single thing published this year (which didn’t make sense since I’ve had two stories published this year). In fact, the day THEMA’s acceptance letter came (via the postal mail, by the way, in my return-addressed envelope), I had received two email rejections for different stories I had submitted elsewhere. I was feeling dejected, but not so much anymore.

the state of things (or of one thing in particular)

October 9, 2017

Above is all that remains of that notebook from my grad school days that I burned in the fire ring at Roundrock. I wrote about it in this recent post.

__________

I devoted a lot of time over the weekend (betwixt watching Emmett and also driving the course of the half marathon I have in less than two weeks) to “finalizing” One-Match Fire. I’ve been tinkering with the stories, trying to focus and enhance them based on the understanding of the characters and the plots as they’ve developed over time. Now that I know this about a character or that is going to happen, I find places in the stories to develop or set the stage for these things. Nearly every story received a dozen or so new words, some a lot more, and I’ve written an entire new story (“Special-blest”) that includes a flashback that helps fill in some of the early years of one character. I’m now up to 68,237 words for the whole novel, not counting chapter titles, of course. This is about a 5,000 word increase since the last count, and most of it is due to the new story. Still, I feel more confident that it is novel length and that I can pitch it as such.

I have some thoughts still to come from a trusted reader, and that may affect (will, likely) how that new story evolves as well as a “guy thing” that I wanted to bring into the stories somewhere that I think is important for understanding part of the dynamic between one of the fathers and his son.

And then? A comprehensive read through to get the tone more consistent; the early stories are lighter, the later stories more serious. And I’ll look for any opportunities to flesh out characters or story based on what I know now that I didn’t know then. And now that I have the narrator clear in my head, I want to capture that person’s voice more consistently throughout.

And then? The terrifying work of sending it to agents? I must get myself to that point. I can’t fool around with this novel any longer. I have other ideas waiting in the wings of my poor brain.