It has been very heartening to have a couple of stories selected for inclusion in anthologies this year. 'Children of the Mandrake' was the first publishable piece of fiction I ever wrote, way back when I first moved to Austin those many years ago. Bruce Sterling took a look at it and pronounced it 'salable'. More than a decade later, he was proven right: It will appear in The Big Book of New Short Horror in September.
'Night and Day' won the OWW's Editor's Choice award, back when they first started including horror fiction on the workshop. Nice things were said about it by Jeanne Cavelos, which is saying a lot. It will appear in The Trigger Reflex in October.
Still, it took many years and many rejections before they finally found a home. These two stories, along with 'All the World a Grave', which was published in Flesh and Bone: Rise of the Necromancers last year, represented some seriously unfinished business for me. I could go on a diatribe now about the publishing industry, or my writing psyche, but really I don't want to write it and you don't want to read it. It's not important.
What is important is that I feel as though getting those stories out there into the world has freed me up, creatively. I've never had trouble writing, really; it was the finishing of anything that plagued me. My unfinished business was, well, unfinished, and I couldn't move on.
Now that business is finished. It's not logical, but the creative process is what it is. I've found homes for the stories I cared most about and believed in the most, and my subconscious seems to have given the green light to moving on to the backlog of stories that are hanging around waiting for endings. It's early days yet, but so far, so good.
I gave my erudite friend E@L the first 35k words of The Blade that Whispers Hate to look over. He told me what I needed to know, which was a) it doesn't completely suck and b) lose the snake (the giant snake, which was an ill-conceived homage to Robert E. Howard, has now vanished in an electron poof).
As I might have written about before, The Blade that Whispers Hate or BWH is a prequel of sorts to Thagoth. It features the same duo of Amra the thief and Holgren the reluctant mage. Over the years, in fits and starts, I'd banged out 35k words or so on it. Now 35,000 words does not a book make, but it very nearly half a book makes, especially in the Sword & Sorcery genre. I know the characters and the world well. So BWH is the logical candidate to finish up and get out there to the reading public.
Apparently my subconscious agrees. Last night in bed I made the giant snake scene disappear and then went on to rewrite the scene, edit the following scenes to reflect the change, and add a bit more to the actual story. This morning I woke up early, the storyline chugging away in my brain, so I went down to the kopitiam down the street with a note pad and in the space of an hour detangled 85% of the rat's nest I'd made of the plot to that point. I now know what happens, in broad strokes, from the current last written word up until the end, except for a relatively small area in my notes where I was forced to write "some stuff happens". This is a good thing, by the way. If I knew exactly what happened from beginning to end, I would find the writing dull. Getting from point to point is half the fun (and most of the frustration) of writing, and if I don't know exactly what's going to happen until I write it, it's less likely the reader will know as they read it.
How long will it take me to finish? I'm not really sure. I hope it takes no longer than the end of the year. It might be much sooner than that, but then it might well take longer. I hope it doesn't.
In any case, I'll keep you updated.