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Filling Up The Trunk: Where I Am With My Writing

July 1, 2012

A trunk is an interesting thing for an author.

An author’s trunk is theoretically the place where they throw works that they don’t care for anymore. It’s the place where something goes when it fails to sell. It’s where unfinished and half-baked ideas go to rot, only a few being touched by some sort of amazing necromancy to rise as something that can sometimes be better than the mere sum of its parts. Most however stay there, hoping that at one point their creator will one day get the chance to show them to somebody.

I suppose, back in the day, when most people wrote by hand or typewriter, trunk stories would sit in literal trunks, and only be discovered by some curious visitor to the author’s home.

When you look through a trunk, the first thing that you’ll probably realize is that it’s not all bad. It just for some reason never sold, and the author forgot about it or gave up on it. Other parts of it are going to just be bad. Some things don’t sell because they’re not easy to find a market for, other things don’t sell because they’re legitimately a pile of crap.

As I begin to submit things and receive the many rejections that will help make me the author I want to be one day, my trunk is growing. Some of it is probably atrocious and in months or years I will come to be thoroughly embarrassed by the fact that I wrote it. Others are just, well, not the type of thing that people are clamoring to buy.

Since you’re a reader here, you clearly know that I have bones to pick with the current market. Some of these bones stem from the fact that I grew up on an older market, the writers that inspire me and I take my cues from are from markets that no longer exist. Oh why, I often wonder, can I not submit works to magazines in the 1960s?

Still, everybody faces rejection in this industry, and most other industries.

For other creative types, you know your trunk. You know it well.

My entire comedic repertoire from two years ago pads the bottom of my trunk. I doubt I’d even dig any of those jokes out if I needed some old hat to feel confident over in front of a hostile crowd. That’s because well, they’re in the trunk for a reason. I’ve moved past them, much like stories that don’t sell, my old jokes are really only there for people who have heard them to enjoy. Maybe, if I ran into a DC comedian who remembered me, I might retell one of those jokes but mostly they’re gone.

My trunk is for my friends. It’s for the curious passersby who are like, “Well this guy keeps blithering about his own writings, where are they?

So, I’ve decided to share my trunk stories here, as a last little send off before they are tossed into a musty old box to be forgotten. You never want to send something out of your trunk once it’s there, but it doesn’t always mean that you want it to never see the light of day again. Following this post, will be a short piece of fiction that blasted toward the trunk with rocket skates on. There will be no consistent posting of trunk stories, as it is based around the idea of them being posted when they are sent to the trunk.
This is also a point in which I am announcing that I am removing my novella, Normalcy, from the Kindle marketplace today. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the first and foremost is really this: I never wanted to self-publish anyway. Self-publishing has always felt uncomfortable to me, and I always viewed my decision to self-publish Normalcy on the Kindle as a moment of weakness and vanity.

Rather than continue the long dusty road of the proper way, I took the easy way out to just remove Normalcy from my mind. In a way, the Kindle was just a trunk that happened to provide beer money. The thing is though, Normalcy wasn’t necessarily ready for the trunk. It was probably ready for some further axing or a lot more cover letters, maybe a bit of both. Still, it’s in the trunk now, and that’s where it will stay for some time.

There is also, I will admit, a twinge of embarrassment that I have always associated with the Kindle. I see some “independent,” authors on Twitter and Facebook who are so damn proud of the fact that their book is on the kindle. Yet, all I think is that if you’re willing to put all of this work and effort into marketing yourself and reaching customers, why not put that toward the legitimacy of an agent who can get you more work later, or a publishing house? I’m not an independent author, I was just a lazy one, and I don’t want to be a lazy author anymore so I’m removing the reference to it. I also don’t want potential publishers of my works to look down on me for publishing on the Kindle. Whether they would or not, doesn’t matter, but I worry that they will because I’m self-conscious about it, and I’m tired of feeling self-conscious about something that I felt was legitimately good and worth publication.

I will not feel bad about the work that resulted in one the weirdest letters to ever be sent from Dark Horse Comics.

If that means that I will no longer make the twenty or so bucks every eight months that Normalcy was bringing in, then so be it. Ming and Laura and Dirk deserve a better place than the Kindle, and in some ways they always deserved something better than my hamhanded prose can deliver.

I might do a retrospective/slight rewrite of it in the future, as it is always a good idea to go back and determine if we’ve actually begun to move forward or not. If I do do such a thing, it will be posted here either as random pieces or a weekly installment. I’m not sure how I’d break it up… I don’t know, I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it.

I feel that all this discussion of writing is also a good place to remind people that yes, I am writing regularly in addition to this blog. Short stories aren’t constantly being written and submitted but I’m trying to increase the output of that as best as I can. It’s hard to keep up with short stories, when I’m embarking on a new novel.

Yes, you read that correctly, I am writing something new.

And no, it’s not When Dreams Die. I do think at some point I might return to When Dreams Die, but it is hard to write something that can be so brutally depressing every other paragraph. Still, it is in a sense, a humorous story, and one that is still very dear to my heart. However, that novel has been set a little further down the priority list.

What I’m working on currently is… complicated. It’s historical but not, and it is fantasy yet I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling it such. In a way it is the song of my people, and the memory of my ancestors. In another, it has very clear and modernized aims. I don’t want to talk much about it given its in-development status.

I hope to have it finished by Summer’s End, which I count as the end of the actual season not Labor Day or the second to last week of August or whatever stupid marker people use to gauge the end of the season that isn’t the Autumnal Equinox. When the first draft is finished, I’ll talk more about it.

After that, I have every intention of returning to an idea that has been brewing in my head for some time. Since it’s months away from even having a sentence written in it, I have no problem talking about this random, theoretical, second novel. It will be an urban fantasy novel with a possible aim toward the Young Adult market. We’ll see how YA it is when we get there though. I suppose it would be more appropriate to say that it will be Suburban Fantasy, as I will be returning to that setting. Why? Well, it’s familiar to me but also, I find the suburban realm far more terrifying and likely to hold monsters than even the sketchiest part of a city I’ve walked through. The protagonist will be female, and the word witches will get used, possibly at some point in reference to a similar word it rhymes with because I’m a horrible person who enjoys the rare pun.

While all of this is going on though, I intend to keep the blog updating regularly. I also have every intention of writing and sending out short stories. Stories that get rejected enough will probably end up here. I’ll also be running the restaurant, GM-ing at least one tabletop RPG, and possibly playing in one or two more. On top of all of this, I will write scripts as they strike me and probably submit them to contests.

In this past month, I endeavored to write at least 50,000 words in this new novel. Combined with what I wrote on the blog, and short stories, I ended up only with 41,950 words. Next month, all combined I want it to be at least 41,951, if not a respectable 80,000: 50,000 in the new novel, 30,000 in the blog and short stories.

Are these goals I can meet? Yes.

Are these goals I will meet? Fingers crossed.

At the end of all of this, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a friend the other week. She was surprised to find that opening the restaurant has not filled me with honey and sunshine. I love the restaurant, I will never regret opening it, and I can’t feel as bad about it as I sometimes claim to because it has helped provide the fire in my heart that propels me forward. However, it makes me regret the Oblomovism of the preceding time. It makes me want to go to my past self and punch me hard in the face for not remembering the things I wanted to write.

I remember telling that friend my goals for the month, and her eyes grew wide. I suppose that’s once again my own fault, she only knew me as a comedian and I’m probably one of the most undedicated comedians I know who can still manage to make a room full of strangers laugh. She distinctly said, “That’s a lot of writing.”

A lot of folks have said something similar.

Well, I’m reminded of advice given to me by Tabletop Game Designer Rich Redman when I was a sophomore in high school, “If you want to be a writer, write everyday. If you want to work in games and have no skill for math, you’re going to want to be a writer.” I think of the recent words of Kelly Oxford, paraphrased as simply the fact that if you want to be a writer, writing should be the thing that keeps you sane, it’s the reason you wait tables or fold clothes. You don’t just get to stumble into success, you work at it. The people that seem to suddenly explode worked hard, and the ones that didn’t disappear quickly.

I want to write.

I like writing.

I wish I had more time to write.

However, unlike cooking, working out, sleeping, performing, fucking, dating, socializing, and countless other things. I’m getting ready to sacrifice more and more to write.

Onward now, sword in hand, to history!

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