Praise the Lord and pass the ammo. I finished the rough -- ragged -- first draft of Snowball in Hell. Thirty-five thousand words in eighteen days. It's not that impressive as I look at it, but I had to research almost every damn sentence. It was brutal. And in the end I was just leaving as much blank as I could for later verification.
It would go like this: Nathan goes into a diner for breakfast.
Did they have "diners" in 1943 Los Angeles? I know there were restaurants, but did they call them diners? What would he order? Rationing was in full-swing by 1943, so could he get eggs and bacon? What color were the ration stamps for eggs and bacon? Did you pay AND give ration stamps? And even if he had the right ration stamps, what was the supply of eggs and bacon like in Los Angeles in December 1943? And on and on and ON.
Actually, I love the research. Love it. Can get lost for days in it -- and I think that was the real factor here: the panic of knowing there was no wiggle room. The edited, formatted manuscript has to be into the printer by the 7th in order to have the second Partners in Crime anthology out for Christmas. So now I've got two and half days before I turn this mess into my editor, who then has about two days to edit the hell of it, and then I've got about a day or so (who's counting?) to make all her edits and the inevitable edits of my own -- I generally add anywhere from two to five thousand words when I polish a draft.
And the funny thing is, I generally cut about two to five thousand words in the polish, so the fact that I end up with a significantly higher word count means...
Something alarming. I'm not sure what.
I love the rewrite stage. That's when the magic happens. Assuming there is magic to be had. I don't like having to start rewrites without significant time between the rough draft and the rewrite. It's better when I can get distance from the work, view it like a stranger -- like a reader -- and these deadlines don't allow for that.
The deadlines are my fault, don't get me wrong.
From August through the end of the year I'll have written -- and hopefully published:
The rewrite on The Hell You Say
A non-fiction book on writing
A short story
Am I missing something? Well, all the stuff I started and haven't finished yet. No wonder I feel a little...tired.
I'm not complaining though. I'll gladly take this over the stress and strain of the day job. At least the fourteen hour days are now spent doing something I love.
I like this story a lot, but I'm uneasy about it. For one thing it's in alternating Third Person POV, which I don't typically write. And one of my protags is kind of a mess. A lot of Catholic guilt and a very strong suicidal tendency -- in fact, the whole story has a very melancholy feel, which I've got to revisit in the rewrite. But it's such a difficult time period for gays, very hard to write about. And it actually got worse in Los Angeles after the war, so...
And yet, people lived and loved and laughed. That's human nature, the resilience of the human spirit, and that's really more what I'd like to write about. And I surely don't want to write a Christmas story with a downer message.
I have the uneasy feeling that I should have saved this story for a novel-length work. There's a lot here that there's simply no time to explore -- although I like the discipline of telling a meaty story in a tight framework. But most of the meat here is thematic and emotional, so maybe the novella works best after all.
I hadn't sold the ebook rights to this one yet -- I didn't think it was right for Loose Id, and I don't want to get overexposed over there (I've already got five stories scheduled with them for next year -- almost all the MLR print stories are ending up as LI ebooks) so I contacted Aspen Mountain Press on impulse -- just asking if there was any chance they'd like a story and whether it was feasible to get it out in time for Christmas, and what do you know? The lovely Sandra Hicks said yes -- and yes. So it looks like that novella will be available as an ebook in December.
Good news, I think. And more good news. My publisher tells me PinC Volume I has been hovering around the #2 slot in Gay Mystery over at Amazon. Of course those ratings change every time the wind blows, but it's nice to know people are buying the book.
Oh, I guess I should mention I that I'm doing a chat next Monday Night at Realms of Love.