17th January, 2011

Yesterday was one jam-packed day filled with good bits and bad bits.

On the plus side, my steampunk horror novella The Devil in Chains began a five-episode run on Dark Fiction Magazine. Narrated by the dulcent tones of Emma Newman, you can grab an episode a night all week. The Devil in Chains features airships, a voodoo deity masquerading as a Manx fairy, plenty of stiff-upper-lipness, men in uniform, and a talking mongoose. If any of those things take your fancy, go check it out. If they don’t, check it out anyway.

On the not-so-plus side, my vampire short The Nightmare of You and Death in the Room failed to make it to the British Science Fiction Association 2010 awards shortlist. I should say that this was entirely expected, and the shortlist this year is very strong indeed. Many congratulations to those who made it, and I certainly know where my votes are going! And thanks again to whoever nominated by story.

Also yesterday codename: Oh Mummy! got a rejection. So it goes. I can reveal the actual title is Transmission, and it’s a zombie horror novel featuring cadavers possessed by the spirits of dead celebrities, hidden stations on the London Underground and a secret society sworn to protect them, and the resurrection of an Ancient Egyptian pharoah. Oh, and mummies.

Rejection stings of course, and over at Terrible Minds Chuck Wendig offers some excellent advice on what to do with a rejection when you get one. As he points out, rejection is the default state of a writer. You must expect it, and expect it often. How you deal with it is what’s important. I recently read some comments on someone’s Twitter stream about how they had just had another rejection (the latest in a long line of them, from what I could work out), and they said they when it arrived they didn’t feel anything at all. Personally I think that’s a little worrying – you should be upset and disappointed, because it means you really want it and the work is important to you. Like great performers who suffered nerves before walking on stage/the director shouted action (Lawrence Olivier being sick in his dressing room before a performance; Patrick Troughton visibly shaking between takes in Doctor Who) – if the fear and disappointment isn’t there, something is wrong. Well, I think, anyway.

So after my I’m so sad, so very, very sad moment my first thought was: dude, you gotta step up your game. Transmission is fully outlined and I have the first three chapters written, so I’ll file it away for a while and when the time is right, I’ve got a headstart on a new novel sitting right there. But, more importantly, along with the rejection came an invite to submit something else. The invite was for a totally different type of story, and as it happens I have already had an idea floating around that fits perfectly. The key now is to make that submission better than the first.

Progress continues on The Wasp in the Lotus with 1,992 words added. However, something is awry with my wordcounts for the year, and after a tally-up yesterday the numbers I have been reporting here are all off slightly. I haven’t been able to work out what’s gone wrong, but there is a clue in yesterday’s count. My daily target is 2000 words, and I worked on Wasp in two sessions. In the first, I wrote 1,000 words exactly. In the second, I wrote 1,015. I tracked this with the Project Targets function in Scrivener, which allows you to see goals for a writing session and then pops up an alert when you have reached it. According to the Project Targets tracker, I wrote 2,015 words. And yet the total length of the project is only 1,992 words longer than yesterday.

There’s something fishy going on. For the moment, I’ll do an audit of all my projects this year and see where I am really up to so I can update this blog properly. Also I’ll clearly have to track the word counts differently, so I’ll make up a couple of Excel sheets and keep a log that way.

Project: The Wasp in the Lotus (steampunk/clockpunk novella)
Words today: 1,992
Words total: 8,415/20,000 (32%)
Total words for 2011: 30,255

I hit the end of chapter two of Seven Wonders, yesterday, and after the action-packed (and difficult to edit) opener I’m now starting to pick up speed, focussing on fixing the writing and taking notes on story problems.

Project: Seven Wonders (superhero novel)
Pages edited today: 20
Pages to go: 506

Books: Some pages of The Dead Zone by Stephen King.
Comics: Still on hold. Too much else to do, although I am looking forward to getting back into it.