Well, that’s it for now. I’ve self-edited 165,000 words which equates to around 70 stories over the past two months.
In between I’ve attended my eldest daughter’s graduation ceremonies, ferried all three daughters (and son) about, dealt with the trauma of a pet cat dying (that is trauma to me as daughter demanded a replacement kitten!!), provided a sample copy of Real Fiction (i.e. Unfinished Tales volume 4) for the consideration of my local library.
The hardest part isn’t maintaining focus on the work itself; once you know what fuels your urge to write and how to regulate it, you’ve passed an important hurdle. The real issue (apart from how to make ends meet) is what direction to follow.
Earlier this year – about March 2014, the choice appeared to be between extending some of my existing story fragments to completion, or tidying up my back catalogue. Other pressures meant it would be unlikely that I could continue writing (which is still the case); I had limited time and I had to choose how to spend it – I decided that the former i.e. to extend existing stories, was best.
March rolled to May and I became increasingly uncomfortable; much of my backlog wasn’t in as good a state as it could be. Once I stepped away, how hard would it be to bring those many pieces up to par. Initially, this concern was held at bay because at the back of my mind was the possibility that my local writing group might seek funds to help its members – one of those helps could be access to professional editing, which would of course be a step up from my attempts. That possibility receded.
Many of my pieces still gave me a buzz but I felt that their grammar and style wasn’t up to the mark. I couldn’t rationalise my way out of it and by mid May, I changed tack and decided to bring them up to scratch. This was a significant undertaking – about 200,000 words in all. This included all the pieces from my first collection: Ice Made and other stories.
My project had the overall title: Unfinished Tales. Many of those pieces were at a ‘Landing Stage’. In each, an authorial purpose had been met, such as a theme made clear, or a sub plot resolved, or a vision / something otherwise significant described. The project could equally well have been called Tales from the Landing Stage. My objectives changed as time went by. Originally the Ice Made stories, along with any new material, were to be considered as a whole from which to I’d create appropriately themed collections. Once this process was complete, I planned to delete Ice Made.
How did it go?
Lucky (33k words, Feb-14 vintage) was conceived before I began the Unfinished Tales project.
It is still out there at: Lulu 9139356 ISBN 978-1-291-86805-0
Yet it was the seed. I umm’d and ahh’d and eventually decided to make it volume one. I added a couple of stories and retitled it. The order of service became:
Volume 1 Life on Earth and other fictions
(39k words, completed July 2014)
Volume 2 Brant and other fancies
(41k words, completed May 2014; cover to design)
Volume 3 The Wrong lane and other detours
(35k words, June 14, cover to design)
Volume 4 Real Fiction Lulu 14942816 ISBN 978-1-291-94388-7
(35k words, June 14)
As you do, I left the most difficult volume until last. Volume 5 is Sci-Fi themed and comes to about 40k words. Problematically it included 20k of ideas for a follow up to my first novel: A Guide to First Contact Lulu 7614126. Ideas take time to shape and in shaping them I would be draining the impetus behind this follow up work… the 20k could become 80k – or more likely 160k. I didn’t have the time to expand it and I wasn’t prepared to destroy it by forcing the ideas – so I put off volume 5. It still sits there in various places on my hard drive. However that meant other SF pieces designed for this collection, would also remain untouched. These pieces required far less effort to bring up to scratch and had appeared in Ice Made.
What did they deal with? Inter-species Love / Sex and Non-Paternal Events (or Gene Capture), Humanity seen through alien eyes, Happiness & despair, A Future in which the British Empire reforms. That was 14k words which I was certain I could make a good fist of tidying up.
I made an executive decision. Leave the other aspects of Volume 5 untouched but bring those stories up to scratch. This meant all the stories in Ice Made would had been revised, paving the way for a second edition.
Sure, the rest of the content would appear elsewhere – but Ice Made, as my first collection, is part of my growth. Those stories tell their own tale. In a change from the first edition, the Ice Made stories will follow the order they appear in the respective volumes of Unfinished Tales.
Of course that means Asimov3 and The Pnong, slated for Volume 5 won’t appear.
It was impossible to discontinue my Goodreads T.P. Archie persona, which meant dead-links to associated books. The soul-searching on that isn’t over. For the time being A Guide to First Contact remains at Lulu 7614126 and Ice Made (1st edition) is still at Lulu 12476238. My T.P. Archie by-line will be dropped for the 2nd edition of Ice Made. A Guide to First Contact will be split into two novels: The Fécunda and The Xenocotrix.