I’m snowed in today, and the class I’m teaching on “Pirates!” is cancelled for tonight, so it’s a good time to reflect. Where had this blog been? Where is it going? If you’re short on time, the most important news is that a new story will start up on Friday, February 6, 2015. There — you can stop reading now, unless you want the details.
In looking over the stories I’ve posted here since the blog’s inception, I’d say they fall into three categories: short stories, long stories with a rapid pace, and long stories with a slower pace. The former two are better suited for the blog. But the latter is where I experiment, and I do so need to experiment.
I’m happy with my progress in writing short stories. I didn’t intend to write any, after the story that led to this blog, “The Troubles of the Farnsworths.” However, I started up with the Halloween annual short story. Personally, I think those have been getting better. “On Huckman Causeway” is serviceable, “Dead Cellphone” has nasty implications, and “Death and Professor Appleton” is a decent adventure. Toss in the recent “When the ghost came in from the cold,” and I’ve started to get suspense, horror, and humor under some control. Good enough.
The long stories with a rapid pace, The Dragon Lady of Stockbridge and Nightfeather: Ghosts have proved to be popular. I think they’re the type of story that is best suited for this blog: a story in which we make dramatic progress every week, while leaving something important hanging in the air. Naturally, my thought is that my next story should be like them. Whether it will be is another question.
The most problematic have been the longer, slower-paced stories, the ones that have frankly been experiments. Martha’s Children was an attempt to juggle multiple viewpoints, handle the psychology of the new vampire, and tell a “prequel” to a story many of you haven’t read! (I’d established in that story that Martha had created the Chicago vampire cops, if only by biting so many of them, but I’d never thought about how that might have happened in any detail before I tackled Martha’s Children.) As I’ve stated before, I was not all that happy with Martha’s Children, both because of pacing and the plot developments at the end. In retrospect, I have to admit that the story was going to have a slower pace, anyhow, and that my concerns there were more about putting it up on the blog than on the story itself. It needs slower pacing.
The recently completed Prophecies and Penalties was a better story than Martha’s Children. For one thing, it’s more tightly focused, since the entire story is filtered through Emily Fisher. In the end, it’s not a murder mystery, it’s a story about how Emily copes with her extended family among the Children and all their weirdness. Emily has to decide what’s important about her life, and therefore what she is going to do. If you had put that to her at the beginning of the story, the answer would have been, “What, are you nuts? I’ve turned my back on my childhood. What’s important is my life now.” By the end of the story, Emily has changed. Her supernatural twin among the Children, Stacia Fletcher, has changed even more dramatically. Both have become more human, with more ties and concerns affecting their behavior. Neither is really certain what they will do next, but they make decisions and get by. I’m proud of the human complexity of that story, even as I look through it and wonder why I wrote some parts of it the way I did.
I made it to ARISIA this year, and managed to stay for the whole sci-fi/fantasy convention (unlike last year). It was a bit of a working break for me, as I had a story and my pirate course to prepare. (If you’ve not heard about the latter, check out my most recent blog post on the subject, over at sister blog Sillyhistory.) Still, it reminded me that last year was supposed to be the year I made a major push to get some of my writing published. That didn’t happen, for a variety of personal reasons and simple procrastination. This year I’ll see if I can do better.
As for Sillyverse this year, I expect to be running a major story for much of the year on Fridays, as in past years. It will start up in February. I’m still playing around with the ideas for it, which is to say I’ve written pages of episodes for a possible story, which is how Prophecies and Penalties originally began.
I’m also thinking that I have at least one story that needs to be written that would not be suitable for the blog. If I schedule that, if I have the time, if I can do the research, I may come calling on some of you for help by reading the manuscript. You’ve been warned.
And now on with 2015!