One Terrific Lie


Thanks to everybody who was able to make the launch of August Falling. It was always going to be tough for some, given it was Father’s Day. But there was a great turnout. Also, a big thanks to Pantera Press, Pantera’s Marty Green (the emcee), and Buck Mulligan’s (a fantastic venue).

During his emceeing, Marty referred to me as a ‘prolific’ writer. It’s also an adjective my boss, Blaise van Hecke, has used when referencing me during writing workshops we’ve run together. I’ve never thought of myself as ‘prolific’. I’ve just thought of myself as somebody who wants to sit down and write, regardless of whatever format I’m writing at that time, and regardless of what else is happening in my life. I actually look back and lament some of the times I could’ve have been much more active.

Although I’ve had two books published, I’ve actually written many, many more. I wrote a couple of fantasy books by the time I was twenty-one. One, ‘The Warriors’ Triangle’, was book one of an intended four-book epic (I was going to be original, rather than write a trilogy or quintology). The other, ‘Midnight’s Dawning’, was a standalone fantasy epic with a novel (as in innovative) format (which I’ll play close to my chest). At approximately 260,000 words, ‘Midnight’s Dawning’ could be three books. One day, if I ever have the time, I would love to go back, break it into three, revise it – although part of me dreads what my writing must’ve been like back in 1991 – and submit it around.

There’s been other novels, or anthologies. Some have been outright rejected. Some have gone close to being accepted, and I rued at the time the near misses, but now celebrate that they’re not out in the world to embarrass me – not that they’re bad. But I don’t think they’re great. Some of them are (or have become) the sort of manuscripts you’d prefer never saw the light of day. However, there are a few others that I’d like to take out and revise – again, it comes down to time. And while some of these manuscripts vie for my attention, they’re competing with new things I’m writing.

While I’ve been struggling with my work-in-progress, I’ve also been working on a couple of screenplays, partnering-up with some actor-friends and hoping to get a couple of projects off the ground. It’s interesting, though, that those screenplays are strictly action genre stories – there’s a physical goal the characters are pursuing. Just Another Week in Suburbia and August Falling are considered ‘literary fiction’, which is more about characters trying to unfuck themselves.

TFSoLY has been a mess the last two weeks, as I’ve jagged on this one scene. I tried to write past it, but I began to feel that writing it like this was taking me the wrong way, and to continue would’ve resulted in a lot of wrong writing – wrong scenes, wrong turns, wrong development. So I cut a chunk of words (hence why my word count is less than it was last week), rewrote the scene and rewrote it and rewrote it, and then even overwrote it – going through it again, but padding it out. Now it finally feels as if I’m back where I need to be with the story, although I’m a bit concerned about the end I’m trying to manufacture.

I know how it’s meant to finish. I don’t always. Usually, I’ll have little-to-no idea, and work it out as I go along. It becomes as much a discovery process for me as it would for the reader. But with this one, I’ve known from before I wrote the first word how it is meant to finish – the query is trying to get the characters there to that spot, keeping that journey causal, and making sure it maintains the suspension of disbelief.

That means everything to me. Every action has to feel authentic, (as well as) a result of cause and effect. Characters might make bad decisions, but they at least need to be genuine decisions – something you could really believe somebody would do.

If I don’t feel I have that verisimilitude, then I can’t go on, and won’t go on, until I find it again.