Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Write Way...

OK, so the title's been used before, but I like a bad pun, and it's appropriate.

I've started two novels in earnest in the last year, and neither is going particularly anywhere. The most recent one I know I'm just around the corner from it taking off, but I'm not sure where it's ultimately going and while I love the core idea I'm feeling less enthusiastic about the rest of it - the bits that make it more than just an idea. (Unenthusiastic is maybe not entirely the right feeling here, it's just not quite 'clicking' for me.)

I'm not looking for advice, there's plenty of that around and I firmly believe that what works for one person doesn't work for everyone. But also that there will be a right way if you look for it and you persevere.

Here's the thing. My writing is naturally getting longer. I wrote a couple of six/ seven thousand word short stories without particularly struggling, and a ten thousand word one shortly before that. When a story clicks and I just write without a word count in mind that seems to be getting naturally longer, I seem to be writing more.

Maybe I just need to write a few short stories and let my form naturally lengthen, instead of trying to jump straight to novel. I think I stalled a little too long at the flash fiction stage (and I'll be the first to admit that's because I really love flash fiction and if I could make a living just writing five of those (or more) a week I totally would).

You'll see the short stories at some point, assuming when I re-look at them and edit them I think they're actually any good. Two of them are set in the same world, although not, yet, connected.

I'm not entirely decided on a publication route (or, attempted publication). There are a few outlets for shorts, which would get my name out there if accepted, but then that's a one-off appearance in all likelihood, and then it disappears. Then there's the Kindle Singles route; they fall in the bottom end of the word count and they would always be there for people to discover, but obviously they wouldn't have the existing readership of a magazine or website.

One of the driving forces behind my writing is wanting to be read. I have stories to tell, stories in my head that I think are exciting, and I want to share them. Just as I did with my flash, for a while, and with my 101s.

Recently, for my birthday, I made my flash collection, This is the New Plan, free for the day. Between US, UK and (oddly) Germany, people picked up 69 copies. It was enough to push me to number 11 in the US free sci fi anthology chart (and maybe higher, as a few more copies ticked over after I went to bed). I find it quite a fascinating thing, the numbers.

That's more than I've sold in the almost a year it's been published. If you fancy picking it up for free, I'll be doing it again when the book is one year old, in about a week's time. I don't imagine as many will go, but it will be interesting to see.

I'm also going to do something a little different for the Xeroversary this year. The last two years I've had guest flash fiction, and while I was a more active member of the #fridayflash group that felt appropriate. This year, I'll post a few days of short samples from the stuff I'm working on. The novels, the short stories, and I'll hope people like what they see. =)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Your 101 Fiction is Evolving...

A hundred words a week. That's not so hard, right? Only, imagine you have to do it every week, and it has to be good, at least as good as the individual pieces that other people send you, but preferably better, because hey, you're professing to know what you're doing.

Now that's not me claiming my stories are better, that's a whole bag of worms I'm going nowhere near. I really like some of my stories, but I'm hardly objective. There are submitted stories on 101 Fiction that blow me away, stories I wish I'd written, stories I enjoyed reading the first time I saw them, and enjoyed even more when they finally went live on the site.

The point is I have to strive to be that good. (And avoid switching person in the middle of a piece, and avoid long run-on multi-comma sentences and mixed metaphors, all of which have already occurred in the last two paragraphs.)

With the way the site currently works, I have to do it every week. I'm sure I could switch things up and drop the frequency of my posts, publish two submitted stories a week, and people would still be happy with that. I mean, how vain am I to post my own stories all the time when I'm trying to make it into something that is more than just a personal blog? But then there's the other thing.

Checking for submissions regularly, regardless of what is happening in my life, can be draining. Reading and replying, suggesting edits where necessary, rejecting (which is not an easy thing). And worrying that there won't be enough stories submitted and that a week will go by without having a story to fill the gap (although, thankfully, I was always a couple of months ahead in my schedule).

I know... whine, whine, whine... It's only a handful of one hundred word stories a week. But I'm trying to do my own writing, and that could be going better. So, as I have to do on occasion because my mind has a habit of having all these ideas that branch and grow and get out of hand, I have to streamline things.

And the thing is, I really like the whole process of reviewing submissions. I like communicating with other authors and seeing how other people use those scant one hundred words. It's just the continuous, ongoing nature that drags it down. And I love the stories, I love the site. So there needs to be a solution, an evolution of 101 Fiction.

And there is one. I'm sure it will come with its own concentrated moments of stress and worry, its own problems, but it will also come with its own freshness, its own renewed excitement.

So there will be a pause. But it's just a drawing of breath, and then we move on. The details will go up on 101 Fiction tomorrow. I hope it appeals, I hope it works. I hope it doesn't kill the whole thing. It will alter what it means for me as editor, since it will be a slightly different beast, and I'm looking forward to that.

I want 101 Fiction to continue, I want it to grow and succeed.