Monday, July 12, 2010

An Old List and a Blatant Plea

Taped to the wire stand that supports my no-frills HP printer is an old, slightly-faded fluorescent yellow index card labeled "Wildly Impossible Dreams":

1) Finish not only DRAGON'S ROOK but also DRAGON'S BANE and the rest of the long, massive story.

2) Publish these books; that they will connect so strongly with readers that they positively affect lives for generations.

3) Be a cross-genre writer -- and be successful at it.

4) Make my living as a writer.

5) Involve my brother & other family members in my writing.

Well, Dragon's Rook is indeed finished but in need of one more gentle edit before it goes anywhere. Dragon's Bane is still being written. Brother and family are most certainly involved. I do write in more than one genre, but success is still elusive.

Notice how those "Wildly Impossible Dreams" aren't so impossible? How they all involve writing? Some might say my life is narrow. I just call it focused.


Issue #56 of Ray Gun Revival is live! Check out all the stories (I haven't had a chance to wade into it yet, but am looking forward to some good reads), and admire the excellent artwork.

Here's a request I don't make, except of the handful of pre-readers who help me prepare stories for submission: If there are any readers who are following Thieves' Honor, my space pirates serial being published in RGR, any feedback you care to give? I'll take the good, the bad, and the ugly, as long as it's legit. Any suggestions, questions, directions you'd like the story to go?

To tell the truth, I just want to know if the story's being read.



Phy said...

I'm reading it, but not because I have to. I liked your space pirates story enough to track you down and ask you to join the crew. Don't think of it as conscription, think of it more as a 'guideline.' ;)

Phy said...

Oh, and Capt. ADD forgot the real reason for his post.

I meant to say that one of the only downsides I've noted about publishing serial fiction is that people don't seem to read it the way they used to. Before novels were cheap, and before there was anything else to do but read pulp magazines and see pulp matinees in the air conditioning at the cinema, serial fiction was our fresh content, and more people looked forward to it. Now, not so much. We're so buried in content that the allure of serial fiction seems to be gone. People tell me they'll wait until the entire story is done and the novel is published before they read any of it, which sort of defeats the point of publishing periodic chapters. It's a new world. Whether it is better or worse, I don't know, but I /do/ know that's definitely different, and I shouldn't assume that past passions will remain relevant in the present.

(When I publish a new chapter of The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, I know I have a good dozen people reading it, but I get maybe one person actually commenting on it if I'm very lucky. I've learned I can't depend on feedback. If people are happy with the story, they typically don't say anything. It's almost impossible for me to tell if the deafening silence after a new chapter is people being content with the story or people simply not reading. I have to remind myself I'm not writing for the feedback, I'm writing to fill a backcatalog for people to discover in the future.)

Keanan Brand said...

Phy: Yes, and I offer many thanks for the conscrip--uh, invitation--to join RGR's galaxy of writers. It's been a blast!

By posting that blatant plea, I do feel a bit whiny, needy, pick your adjective. Despite that, thanks for reading!

This is definitely a good experience for me, and I wouldn't trade it. For an obsessive perfectionist, writing a serial is like dancing on the far edge of crazy without a safety harness, a net, or a proper spacesuit. I keep telling myself to loosen up, think beyond my narrow vision, and remember that it doesn't much matter how off-kilter the story gets, it's not being read. (Like my self-psyching techniques? I oughta write a book!)

As for an audience waiting until the end to read the entire story, well, I'd like to ask if that's what they do for a television series: Forget the weekly episodes, just wait for the season on DVD.

I'll watch every episode AND buy the DVD -- but that's just me.

Besides, our serials are going to probably undergo some tweaking and changing as they are edited for a full-length novel, so readers may get different stories than they expect. There are some deleted scenes that will very likely go back into my manuscript, and some plot elements that may be worked in as secondary or tertiary story lines, once the plot has room to expand. (I try, but am often unsuccessful, to keep the each episode around 3,000 or 4,000 words.)

And, looking at the cover of Issue #56, I noticed there's no SKY PIRATE episode. Maybe next time?

I'll try to be better with feedback on stories / episodes written by other writers. If our readers won't, maybe we need to spread the encouragement among ourselves.