Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Collection

Having all but abandoned my blog, I'm back again with all good intentions to treat it better in future. The good news is, there may be a possibility of my short stories getting published early next year as a collection. To reach the stipulated word count I had to produce two more stories, which has been an interesting exercise - I've never had to write to deadline before, and it has exposed some home truths: namely that what I've taken for lack of inspiration/writer's block/call-it-what-you-will is in fact more a lack of determination. I'd promised the publisher a story by the 26th of last month, and having got what felt like two thirds of the way through, I hit the famous block. I didn't know how to finish it! I tried this, I tried that. Nothing felt right. Three days I banged my head against the monitor, or cleaned the house within an inch of its life, or had a beer, deciding I'd done enough (read: nothing) for the day. That would normally be the point where I'd go: OK, that's enough, story hasn't worked. But I didn't have that luxury. I'd promised my publisher a story, and my book was depending on it. Nothing like panic as a motivator. So I pushed on through. Rewrote the ending several times. Rewrote again. Cut back from 5500 to about 4000 words. The result? A pretty tight, funny story. Certainly a worthy member of the collection, and a nice contrast stylistically with some of my more sombre and poetically inclined works. What do I learn from this? That "I can't" is just another excuse for avoiding the hard work that is making fiction. Forget inspiration: hack that story out of the recalcitrant rock! Yeah, I know I am totally contradicting my own remarks of a while back about "pushing the river". I'm allowed to change my mind, right?

In other news, my recent story "Shock" will appear in the next edition of "Kill Your Darlings". I posted a few paragraphs from an earlier draft of that story in my last post. That passage has been changed and improved since then.

My writing group (which I still think of as 'the Almaniacs' in my head, since it was originally formed of Sleepers Almanac contributors, though I don't think anyone else remembers the suggested moniker) is continuing to go great guns. We have two new members, having recently lost a couple of old stalwarts. Not sure if I mentioned that four of us are now in the fortunate position of having books coming out this year. Louise Swinn of Sleepers fame has suggested we be the subject of one of the Sleepers salons later this year, which would be great. I've written before about Jon Bauer's book "Rocks in the Belly". It's Scribe's lead title this year and I expect destined to make something of a splash. I hope so, since it really deserves it. Jessica Au's book "Cargo" (tentative title), her short, Wintonesque coming-of-age-in-a -seaside-town story doesn't have a strict publication date at this stage as far as I know, but will also be worth reading, if just for its lovely, graceful prose. Then there's Dan Ducrou's YA title "The Byron Journals", coming out through Text, which I've had less opportunity to sample, but which was short-listed for a Vic Premier's Award in 2008, I believe.