Last night, I started a new story (my 6th of the year) and the first I’ve ever written which is intentionally planned to be part of a series of stories set in the same universe. The idea came from the novel that I tried to write for NaNoWriMo last year. I have no experience writing novels and the truth is, I don’t seem to know very much about how to make them work, at least not yet. However, I liked what I was writing and I though that the central idea and some of the scenes that I had written could form the basis of a series of interrelated short stories. These stories are not necessarily chronological (like Heinlein’s Future History) but they center around the coming of a major event. The thing that I am most looking forward to is that they are told from many different points of view and I can play with lots of different characters. I think of this as my “Homecoming” series or universe, but believe me, that overused moniker is for my convenience so that I have a way to mentally refer to the stories, and I don’t think I actually plan to title a story “Homecoming”. The story that I started last night is fully formed in my mind, but unlike many of the stories I write, I have no idea how long it will end up being. For now I am just hoping to keep it under 10,000 words.
I wasn’t planning on starting the “Homecoming” story this month. I did out out of desperation. I was working on another story, one which I have been wanting to write for a long time now. I’d written the opening scene to the story and I really liked it, and while I know how the story will go, nothing good was coming after that opening scene. In part this is because I am in the process of learning which scenes are important to a story and I think I was being overly cautious in what scenes I included. This is not my modus operandi. Normally, in a first draft, I write everything I can possibly think of and then cut later. In any event, I got bogged down with this in August and was not writing. In fact, not counting what I did yesterday, I had only 3 days in the entire month when I did any real writing. Compare that to 18 days in July. I moved to the “Homecoming” story because I was excited about it and felt more ready to write that one than the other. Hopefully, writing this story will free up my mind to unravel what was wrong with the other one and I can come back to it next month with a fresh approach.
Then, too, having a fun science fiction universe to play in makes it easy to turn to that universe to write something new when all else fails.
At the present moment, on this last day of August 2010, I have 3 stories “out”. The first two are science fiction stories, one at one of the Big Three, the other at one of the new online magazines to pop up this year. The third is a straight mystery–my first–that is currently out to one of the mystery magazines: the first time a story of mine has been submitted to a non-science fiction market. Through August I have had 18 story submissions and 15 rejections.
I’m hoping to pick up the pace a bit through the rest of the year. I’ve written 5 stories so far this year. My goal was 20 stories and 100 submissions. That was probably optimistic and I will be able to better revise those goals for next year. But in the last 4 months of the year, I hope to get out another 5 new stories, and add another 15 or so submissions. And I’m considering taking a 3rd crack at NaNoWriMo this year, too.
I’m looking forward to all of the blog posts and twitter updates from World Con. And there are still some good science fiction novels that I am eagerly awaiting before year’s end (in particular, Connie Willis’ All Clear).