I’ve been a little quiet over the past couple of days due to ill health. My guts are aching and I’m still a little under the weather, but at least I’m able to sit at a computer and write or design for a few hours without whining or crawling back to bed. I apologize if you came around looking for something to read and found the same old stuff.
Sadly, plans for a new Christmas card seem to have met with failure, and I’m also behind schedule on my story writing for LinkTales volume 2. I finally sat downs and wrote one (and started another) of the approximately forty stories I plan to complete. Don’t panic: most of the stories will be two-thousand word shorts, with a few slightly longer pieces of between five and ten thousand words. I suspect the collection will come in at between 90-100K words. That would seem pretty daunting, but really, I’ve written more than that in a relatively short amount of time, so I’m not sweating.
The catch will be in making sure I don’t repeat myself. Forty short stories is a great way to reveal the limitations of your storytelling craft, because you basically burn through plot points like running water. It helps if you’re essentially rewriting history, which allows you to steal judiciously from familiar stories and tropes without seeming derivative, but really, you have to watch for patterns and decide whether you want certain pieces existing in the same volume because they’re too similar.
My buddy Adam P. Knave wrote an article yesterday about how novel ideas are not the same as actual stories, which require that you have some structure and more than just an inkling of what you want to say and how to best say it. What Adam does in his article is runs you through the possible process it takes to get an idea to work as a novel. It really is quite complex, and he in no way claims to have a monopoly on the process, but what he does explain sounds pretty good to me. A lot of little decisions get made in fitting a neat idea into evening wear.
Fortunately for me, while I have certain stories that function as a carrier for the narrative thread that works its way through the book, nevertheless, each story has to function as a short story, and because of my specification that almost all of the stories come in at under 2K words, it frees me from having to answer as many questions as I would have to ask if I were writing a novel. In novels, you have to ask questions that resolve best if you ask another question, and keep answering questions in the same vein until you run out of questions to ask. Short stories free you from that.
However, the corollary is that an anthology of short stories has to have a mad number of fresh ideas and approaches. It’s one of the reasons anthology editors are usually more successful if they have a lot of writers they can draw pieces from. Multiple writers pretty fairly guarantees a wide selection of ideas and approaches. Short story collections by single authors are generally compiled over decades, with such a broad number of stories to choose from that the editor can afford to be picky.
With this volume of LinkTales, the object will be to write as many stories or takes as needed to approximate that effect, only with forethought and intent. I suppose that, when I get the requisite number of stories written, I can whittle it down, but really, the neat thing about writing for eBooks is that I don’t have space restrictions, and I don’t have to worry about the capricious or perhaps jaded opinions of unsympathetic editors. Editing is a tough job, and I don’t give editors enough credit for their work. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of failed collaborations, it’s that it is a bad principle to try to force the creative process with somebody who doesn’t necessarily care whether your ideas comes through or not. It’s the same no matter what field you’re in, and really, it’s no slight on the individual editors when I say that most simply won’t have the time or luxury to champion your cause. I don’t think anyone enters that end of the field thinking it’s the route to great financial success, but still, if you make a highly specious career path into your life’s goal, it can lead to some pretty schizophrenic behaviour.
So where does that leave me and my little ebook? Well, with luck, as I increase the size of my store, I will also increase my visibility and people will start taking my work seriously, despite the fact that I’m self-publishing.
At least, that’s the theory. We’ll see.