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2004-03-04 2:54 PM
It was nowhere except for where they stood
For whatever reason (and it may simply be that I've got this Nirvana cover of a Meat Puppets song running through my head), I feel like I've been on a bit of a plateau with my fiction writing. And by plateau, I don't mean I've reached great heights so much as a flat section, no great ups or downs.
I think a big part of this feeling (which isn't necessarily bad or good, just sort of uncomfortable, really) is that I'm moving away from writing twenty short stories a year or so to focusing on novels. Short stories are awesome to write and read, and subbing them becomes addictive (I try not to practice rejectomancy, I really do).
But damn it, nobody really cares about short stories. Including me, for the most part. Novels have heft. Permanence. Stories are for reading for fun, like the T.C. Boyle story in the latest New Yorker I read this morning while riding the bike at the gym (I missed reading the New Yorker! I'm subscribing again, now that almost all my other magazine subs have expired). Anyone read that one? A good story, though I wonder if he didn't pull his punches with his ending... A good emotional roller coaster of a story, regardless.
But yeah, novels versus stories. I think I'm figuring out how to write a novel, after a couple attempts that may or may not have been made as "practice runs" (we'll let the agents and editors decide on the fantasy and SF novel, though I have high hopes for the Blackbeard novel).
I realized I was being too casual with my earlier novels, not giving the reader enough "reader cookies" to gnaw on. In other words, I had to pack my novels as full as my stories. This sounds painfully obvious now, but it took a lot of trying (and cutting -- about 75 pages of the SF novel) for me to figure this out.
Also, I think this sense of "plateauing" (ouch) is that I haven't written a lot of new stuff in the past few months. I've done a ton of revising, and I think it's because of that work that I'm able to see my work from a more critical, non-judgmental eye. That and all the rejections I've gotten from agents and editors... ;)
But I'm still plugging away at the Blackbeard revisions, which I should be able to finish a lot of this weekend. And Tim just sent me some awesome stuff to work with on the collab he and I and Greg are working on. And I'm looking forward to the next big projects -- two new novels. I've been uncovering some great research for the baseball novel, and I'm looking forward to re-reading Lord of the Rings once more for the other novel (I'm looking to twist and turn every high fantasy stereotype that's come about from all those folks who've been copying Tolkien in the past 50-60 years). Plus the trilogy is so much fun to read, and that's what this whole fiction-writing gig is about, at its core.
In other news, baseball has begun!. Specifically, the Cubs return. I got hooked on watching them last year, and now that they've blown up the cursed ball that led to their downfall in last year's playoffs, I see nothing to stop them from going all the way this year. Hope springs eternal for Cubs fans.
Carter Beats the Devil, Glen David Gold
And look at what youíve done
The plateauís clean, no dirt to be seen
And the work it took was fun
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