Falling at the finish line

The trunk is overflowing lately, packed with mostly finished pieces that need some work. I hate the trunk. What’s inside are months of ideas and characters and worlds built while sleeping, showering, sitting on the toilet and daydreaming. I’ll admit, the world building tends to overshadow most of the pieces in the trunk, and I’ve been told time and time again to keep it short. Finding the flaws is my biggest challenge of late.

Used to be I’d get no feedback whatsoever, and that was disheartening. You see, ignorance really is bliss most of the time. If you don’t know what the problem is it’s easy to think that the problem doesn’t exist. But then the feedback comes in and you take it with a grain of salt. It’s really just subjective opinion and there’s no way you just shoved way too many elements into a boundless jar. But in reality, the jar is not boundless.

What appeals to me about writing genre fiction is the lack of limitations. Hell, I can make a world where none of the things that bother me about this world exist. I can fill it with hundreds of people or creatures or cultures, where currency is seashells and loved ones never really die because magic exists. But the sandbox is a sandbox because it has limits. The story is still being told in reality to people just like you and me who need rules and frames of reference to understand and experience. That’s why limits and structure and tropes are necessary.

I picked up a book called Nascence by Tobias Buckell and it’s filled with short stories that failed. Now that’s a great way to make the trunk work for you. He actually published a book filled with stories from the trunk and he analyzes them from the perspective of an editor. It’s helped a lot today. I’ll need to go back through Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress also, because I’ve noticed that endings are still tough for me to pull off in a satisfying way. I’ve been shortlisted a lot lately and I start to think ‘I’m there–this one came across just how I wanted it to.’ But shortlists and feedback only mean you’re getting closer. Don’t let them get to your head.

Today, I will edit and rewrite and restructure until the things in the trunk come to life.

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