I sent out some flash fiction last year (scroll down on the Writing page for two examples!) but I mostly worked on and sent out memoir. 2019 was a really bad year for me, and I took a lot of notes while it was going on. I tried doing some things with it all, and the response was universally: ugh, no thanks.
After years of wrestling with memoir overall, it was hard not to see that as a sign. So, we’re done. It’s cool.
It turned out there was a novel waiting for me. I’m well aware that novels are gambles in ways that shorter prose isn’t. In the last six years I’ve written two novels and set both of them aside. One I might get back to someday but the other one, I had to perform an exorcism. (Not joking, happy to send instructions on request.)
The one constant when I’m working on long fiction is that it’s always a little like The Talisman — there’s this world, there’s the world that the story lives in, and there are threads back and forth between them as we all move forward.
It has nothing to do with autobiography. It’s more like being on a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg, and your social studies teacher just said something kinda mean because she’s tired, and it affects what you think of and remember about the blacksmithing demonstration.
I know where the story is going. But some of the stuff in between, I’ve been avoiding. Or, to keep going with the analogy: I know I have to watch the blacksmithing demonstration, but I also have to wait for the social studies teacher to say something.
Some people hate the editing, but I hate the waiting. It’s hard to tell the difference between waiting and thinking and procrastinating. Meanwhile nothing is good enough for anyone else to read, and I’m just going to say it — there are no social media pellets when you’re in a long wager…or a long con.
That said: my favorite part, by far, is the magic. The song stuck in my head for the last two days has lyrics that are relevant. Someone says something in a chat box and it’s directly relevant to a section I’m going to take a shot at getting down on paper in the morning. I draw a tarot card (because that’s my Quarantine Hobby) and it’s Judgement reversed and I know exactly what that means and I laugh my ass off. A new title bounces into my head and it affects every damn thing I’ve done so far, and probably some other stuff I’m going to catch on the next draft. All of it.
It can be lonely, sure, but a fair amount of the time? It’s cool.