Thursday, September 24, 2015

What to Write Next.

Planet of the Apes, (Morguefile.)

Louis Shalako

My grandparents had some pulp fiction on their bookshelves, including Ellery Queen. At one time I might have even bought Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, probably when I was working 12-hour shifts as a security guard. They had their shelves stocked with old mystery, western, and romance novels for the most part.

I’ve even submitted a couple of stories to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. I wrote The Handbag’s Tale for submission to this market, and when it was rejected, I published it myself. A few one-star troll reviews, and I was so pissed off I wrote a novel.

(I’ve often wondered about them guys, incidentally.)

I haven't written any fiction in two or three days. If I don't have any compelling ideas for a short story, I might as well start my next novel. For one thing, my conscience would be clear for the next couple of months. Also, since it's a larger work, I don't necessarily need to have the ending in sight, which would more often be the case with short stories.

There are quite a few literary influences in my background. My first girlfriend had a bookshelf full of science fiction. My mother loved mystery and romance, my dad had books on war, history, psychology, and sexuality. My grandparents had all kinds of pulp fiction on the shelf. That all represented a certain era, and what was sort of written, and what was sort of available, during the period of their lifetimes.

When I was a young working man, with a disposable income, my girlfriend and I made a regular thing of going to the bookstore. Looking back, that was a very nice thing.

Right now, I have some ideas on books that I would like to write someday.

Why I wouldn’t want to start any one of them right now is a very good question.

I want to do something in 1968. It involves New York City. There is a large and disparate cast of extreme characters. That one is a kind of literary fiction, satire, or parody. That one is very personal and I don’t want to write that one in anger.

For some reason I still want to do some kind of science fiction a la A.E. van Vogt, Gordon R. Dickson and possibly E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith. To me, that one sounds like sf with some fantastic, even spiritual element to it. The trouble with that one is that I know what happens to independently-published science fiction novels.

I want to continue my Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery series, and yet writing the second one in a year was an odd challenge. It was both too easy, and too hard at the same time. This is just the author talking, but the first one I wrote this year, Speak Softly My Love, is probably a better book than How to Rob a Bank.

I don’t know why that should be, it just is. As for writing a third one this year, it is certainly possible.

The other thing is that we’re trying to figure out what’s going to sell. One of my pen-names has a relatively successful short story, and so naturally, we wrote a few more short stories to support that pen-name. We’ve sold two or three copies! That’s the sort of thing that defies popular wisdom, but the new stories are historical aviation adventure. The successful story is a submarine story. Go figure. But it’s clearly two different sets of readers. On the other hand, Tom Clancy did both and made it work.

All of this is important in some way. For me, work is an escape from reality. I know that sounds a bit off in a world where a lot of people hate their jobs and can’t wait for retirement—where one of the things on their bucket list might be to write a book. It’s a pretty common dream, and of course I’m living that dream from their point of view.

They probably have a lot more money than I do, but the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. You have to admit, it’s a bit of a trade-off.

I’m not bitching here.

When I’m not working on anything, as a retiree, I have sixteen or seventeen hours in the day with nothing much to do. And to escape into the world of the novel is just that.

It is an escape, an escape for the author just as much as it is for the reader.

Perhaps even more so.

You guys only get to enjoy it for few hours—I’m in there for weeks and months at a time, at least to some degree, for three or four hours a day.

“The book that will change your life is the book that you write.” – Seth Godin.

I must have wanted to change my life pretty bad, and that carries certain considerations with it. Like, what do I want my life to become, for example.

And I’ve never really been entirely sure, ladies and gentlemen.

However, that first book really did change my life. I would imagine they all did to some degree.

Anyways, I’m the only one that can make something happen here.


Backstage Lensman. (A footnote to history.)


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