28 May 2006 by Published in: writing 1 comment

I have a hard time thinking about genre in terms of my own work. It doesn’t seem shiny enough for specfic or fabulous enough to be fabulistic or straightfoward enough to be litfic or wild enough to be magic realism. I’m kind of hoping the dissection of the work will be someone else’s job, but then there’s that whole marketing thing. The last two stories I finished have no specfic elements at all, and I have no idea where to send them.

It seems odd for me to say I don’t want to think about what exactly I write since I classify everything around me, but I seem categorically unqualified to be able to figure out what my own writing is. Not only that, classifying my own work seems like so much wankery. Plus, I have some concerns that overthinking genre could break process for me, so I avoid it. Then again, there’s that marketing thing to tend to. What is this? Where do I send it?

I can tell you where the stuff came from (en cierto, de Jorge Luis con su voz solemne y poetica, su rostro ciego, su amor perpetuo de Buenos Aires, sus senderos siempre bifurcando, y su alma bibliotecaria. And you, Edgar, with your deep preoccupation with setting, the house that is ever the soul, your sense that the mystery never solved is the human heart. Yes, you too, Fyodor, and all those sentences that are too long and all those characters who are too complicated, as well as your study of moral problems. I’ve hardly begun, this could go on for a while, so perhaps I should stop now.) Revise that to: I can tell you some of the places the writings came from, but I cannot label them any one thing, or tell where the words will end up.

I have a title for a story I don’t have a story for yet. It’s called “Ranganathan’s Gift”. I am hoping that it will be funny and synchronous.

I just finished Anansi Boys and there’s an image there that feels yanked whole cloth from Lewis. I want to compare the two, to see how much alike they really are. Anansi Boys is a great book, too, so much better than American Gods. Funny and more carefully plotted and such a delight to read. I was so happy with it.

I realized, around November or December, that my kinesthetic limitations translate to writing. I cannot, for the life of me, describe a simple sentence in which characters take a physical action. If I take the trouble to figure out what people are doing and how (in order to round out my scenes for those movie in the head people) I always take three times as long to write the applicable sentences only to subsequently have readers tell me they can’t work out what anyone is doing. Picking up a glass! Sitting in a chair! Lying upside down in bed! Tipping someone over the sill into the hole! Why is this so difficult? Learning this trick is going to cost me, I can tell already. Between the inability to describe action and figuring out how to be funny, I’m going to be pretty busy failing over here. Ah well, fail better, right?

“Hindsight” was returned to me (by the now defunct Fortean Bureau, sadly…does it count as a rejection if the place you sent it to shuts down?) which means that I have nothing out, because “Hindsight” was all I was sending around. “How Does Your Garden Grow?” has been through a heavy round of edits and a re-read by the small critique group, so it’s a hair’s breadth from being ready to go out. There’s also a flash piece that’s essentially lacking only a title (and a market) before going out, and “Easier Next Time” which was reasonably well-received at WUTA and for which I haven’t many edits. Then there’s the big edit pieces: “Lie Down with Dogs” (which is also very long, almost 10K words, and can you believe one of the knocks people had on it was that they wanted more?), “Seamless”, “Nine-Tenths” and “How I Lost My Nissan Z-350”. Then there’s the radically (possibly irreparably) broken stuff: “Egghead Kingdom”, “Ennui”, “Found Objects”, “Olympus”, “Loyal Companion”, and the one I really love “Far From the Tree”. Unfinished pieces include the post apocalyptic star story, the Chelia backstory thing I was working on, and (winner in two categories!) “Far From the Tree”. So it looks like I have about four things that really ought to be out finding a home, four things that need revisions and six things that I just throw my hands up about for now, because I’ve no idea how to fix them.

Tally: I wrote fourteen stories in, roughly, a year and half. Six of them are (currently) unworkable. That’s a pretty scary failure percentage, there, and that’s before we get to market, even! However, in the slightly reassuring department, only one of those shelved pieces (yes, “Far From the Tree”) is from this year, so maybe the others were all overambitious practice? And “Far From the Tree” tries to do a lot and I was cocky and confident I could handle it all, at first. Still, the newer ones do seem to be getting to the page more fully realized, clearer in every respect, than the earlier ones, even when I can’t quite pull the rabbit out of the hat. The improvements are most noticeable where I’ve taken old starts and finished them (“Nine-Tenths” and “Easier Next Time”). Anyway, at least I know “Far from The Tree” is broken. In every other instance, I had to have someone else tell me the story was broken. I couldn’t see it. That counts for something, right?

You know, other than trying to get the eight that aren’t wretched in good enough shape to go out into the world and maybe working on the Chelia backstory a bit, I’m going back to Cualcotel. It’s novel time. I want to complete it. This week, my goal is to get an outline, and go over the part I think stays the same (first five thousand words or so?).

iTunes says I was listening to Distractions from the album Simple Things by Zero 7 when I posted this. I have it rated 5 stars.


Sun 28th May 2006 at 11:33 pm

Have faith. Your writing is good. Better then most. Send it out. Some of the stuff which you thing is very broken really isn’t.

I’ll even take a stab at genre for you, if you like. Although not as many of the markets care as it appears.

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