This week’s work

I’ve given up on Thursdays as a good day to write and post to the blog. It doesn’t work with other things I have going on at all. The weekend is better, so I’m going to shift to Saturdays (earlier if I can manage).

This week I had a couple of stories to tidy up before letting other people read them, one for a critique group through Story A Day and one for the short story class (that is almost finished). Both these stories are a little different from what I usually write, so we’ll see what people think.

Of course, that also meant I had stories from other people to look at and comment on, which is such a useful exercise. I know it’s a bit clichéd, but you really do see your own problems reflected so much more clearly in other people’s work.

It has also been interesting to do the critiquing/workshoping at the same time as doing slush reading, because they are so similar yet utterly different. 

The critique process is all about providing constructive suggestions to a work that is still *in process* so that the writer can make their work stronger *as they finish it*, whereas slush reading is looking at the finished product and deciding on whether it works (for the market, etc). Of course, it is all subjective, but doing the slush reading has made me think about my own work differently. Are my initial paragraphs super compelling? Do they telegraph what is to come in the story? Am I establishing a world and characters quickly? First impressions really colour how you read the rest of the story.

I also did more work on my not-very-short story “Dispersed” this week, which is really coming along. Last week, I resolved all the current comments I had on it and started to incorporate further sensory details and fussed with language usage and stuff like that. In other words, it’s almost finished. Hopefully, I’ll get it done and submitted by the end of the month.

It does take time, and more so with longer work, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

I’ve been re-watching Babylon 5 (currently half-way through season 3) and I want to write about it (since I have some thoughts), but I haven’t sorted out in my own mind yet how I want to frame it. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it (although I remember an awful lot of actual, verbatim dialogue), but it’s been a while.

Regardless, it holds up remarkably well for a series from the mid-90s (although the very noticeable lipstick on the female characters is somewhat distracting). I’ve long been interested in what science fiction says about the time period in which it is written and SF television shows offer such a rich opportunity for  considering that. What we can imagine for the future is both confined and defined by our current circumstances and experiences (not to mention the budget of a weekly series) in ways that we can only really appreciate in retrospect.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. Take care.

Today is not Thursday

So. This is not Thursday. This is not a good beginning for a weekly blog post, to be a day late in the second week.

However! I do have a writing-related reason. I needed to post a story for critique today and I was working on it yesterday. (Yes, I could have done that earlier…)

What I’ve been working on

As mentioned last week, I am currently working on three different stories, of very different lengths and subject matter.


Over the long weekend (Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada), I worked on this, incorporating the comments I received in workshop.

I think it’s improving (a lot). It is also getting much longer, having gained over 2000 words in the last couple of weeks. It’s close to 7500 words now, so just on the edge of short story length.

The length is fine, it is what it is. The larger issue is that it takes that much longer to do each editing pass. And I will need to slightly adjust where I submit it. But I have a list for that already, so I have no reason to procrastinate on that when the story is ready.

Ideally, I’ll have this finished by the end of the month. Most of the developmental work is done. There are a few elements I want to tweak, but they are backstory and explanatory things, nothing central to the story or characters. Most of the remaining work is polishing.

There’s still laundry

This Story a Day story from last month is the one I submitted today for critique. It’s short (around 1300 words) and about ghosts adjusting to life after death. 

I really like it (although I went through my predictable ‘this story is absolutely awful’ stage yesterday). Anyway, I’m looking forward to the comments I get on this and moving forward with it after.

The other story I’ve been working on is called (for now) Generation Pothos, about a generation ship and with a heavy plant theme. I didn’t get around to it this week. I’ll return to this once I’m done with Dispersed (and probably after November). I’m eager to get it to it, but I don’t think it will suffer from further back of mind thinking. The only strong thing about it right now is the premise, so more thinking about it will probably benefit the story in the long run.

What’s coming next

Instead, I’m going to develop the (very) short stories set in my novella universe that I wrote in September into a collection. I have 15 stories and I have arranged them in chronological order. They’re all around 800 words and I plan on expanding them (2000 words on average) and then editing them (although not necessarily to completion).

Ideally, the stories will stand alone enough to be submitted to various places individually, but I am also aiming for a novella-length story collection that has its own internal logic.

That’s all for this week. Take care.

I finished the novella

Last month, I found that having a very set schedule for posting here, with predetermined topics to write on, worked really well. Previously I have been far more vague (for example, deciding to write 2 blog posts per month, but without specifics) and then it just doesn’t happen.

So, I am going to be posting each week on Thursday about what I have been working on for the past week and anything else writing-adjacent that I feel like.

(I realize that I could turn this into a newsletter, but that feels like work — in the sense that I actually produce newsletters for work and I’d rather not do another at the moment.)

What I’ve been working on

I completed another full edit (on paper) of the novella I’ve been working on since June and entered those changes into the electronic version. 

Once that was done, I debated with myself as to whether I wanted to do another on-screen edit before submitting, but ultimately decided against it. In the last edit, many of the edits were changes in word choice that were not particularly meaningful. (In fact, I think I changed back some of the edits I had made in the previous pass…) I was becoming a little concerned that I was going to start making things worse by fiddling unnecessarily.

Now that the novella is off in the world, I can turn my attention back to shorter stories. There are three I am currently focused on.

An earlier, somewhat different version of the beginning of this story (with a different title) was a Critique Week story last year with the Story A Day Superstars group. I’ve been working on it, on and off, for a while now. I think I have changed almost everything now except the setting and the broadest interpretation of the plot, but it is definitely much closer to what I want.

There’s still laundry: This is a Story a Day story from just last month, a lighthearted story about the underworld. I think it will end up being rather short, maybe 1200 words. I really like how the setting has developed.

Then there’s what I am tentatively calling Generation Pothos. This started out as an idea for themed submission call, but what I was writing wasn’t quite right for it. It’s about a generation ship that is not going to reach its intended destination. The twist is that most of the library and electronic files that would have told them about Earth and everything else were lost and all they know about (or the only thing they know a great deal about) is plants.