Part one of “In the Library of Souls” (aka Rainpocalypse) is live at Strange Horizons today!
What can I say about this story that I haven’t already said? It was born of my passion for libraries and a summer of continuous rain. It is the last of what I think of as my trilogy of apocalypses, though technically there is one more languishing on my netbook.
The original draft started with a game of hide and seek. As with most things I write, it started in the wrong place. I’ve added that scene to my file of rejected beginnings. I think they may all create their own book, someday. They are, for the most part, all good strong scenes, and I feel bad for them every time I open the folder.
I’m going to stop here. At some point in the next twenty-four hours I’ll be back with a plea for the annual Strange Horizons fund drive. If you haven’t spent much time at Strange Horizons, please do so. It’s full of good stuff.
When I posted on Sunday, I only gave part of a story. Yes, Rainpocalypse sold to Strange Horizons, which is a fabulous thing. It’s a story about a lot of rain, as well as other things, like souls. I wrote it originally for an anthology that I never submitted to, much like I wrote “Snowfall” for a contest I never entered. Yes, I believe that can be called a pattern.
Anyway, that was one thing. The other thing, the one I alluded to a week or so ago, was that Daily Science Fiction bought “This Place From Which All Roads Go.” Also very exciting! “This Place…” features a water disaster of another sort, and families, and community. The whole piece is somewhat more personal than many stories I’ve written, albeit in the weird and unrecognizable ways that happen when minds convert experience into fiction.
So, that’s it for now. It’s raining, it’s cold, the peepers are peeping, the owls are calling, and I am bound for sleep.
No online story suggestions today. I’ve spent the last two days away from the computer, busy with family things. I’m also overtired from a week of falling asleep late and waking up early with a list of things to do, so I’m both surly and boring, a winning combination.
For those of you looking for short stories and willing to venture offline to find them, I’ve been reading an Elizabeth Hand collection, Saffron and Brimstone, this week. I highly recommend it, in particular, the quartet of stories collected as “The Lost Domain.” Such flawless writing, the kind that pulls me to keep reading even after my eyes are begging for sleep.
And, a little news from here. Rainpocalypse, aka “In the Library of Souls,” has sold. It will be appearing in Strange Horizons, most likely in October. I’m tremendously pleased about it. It’s good to know that my summer of rain inspired something of value.
Some stories tell themselves. “Ash and Dust” did. The most agonizing part of that whole experience was deciding where it should start. (I still like the original beginning, and I hope I have use for it some day, but it wasn’t right for that particular story.)
“Ash and Dust” probably came easily because I already knew Jaz and Bren. They’d been stuck in my rock tumbler of a brain for long enough, so when it came time to write, they were polished and ready to go. When a story goes that smoothly, it’s easy to assume all sorts of things. It’s easy, for example, to assume that stories that take more work are somehow lesser.
But the stories that get carried around for years before being told are going to be different then ones that haven’t had tincture of time. “Rainpocalypse” (it really does have a better name, I promise) took a handful of starts and one dead end before I understood where I needed it to go. Or rather, it took me that much writing before I understood the character at the heart of the story, and where she would go. Sometimes it works that way.
Sometimes, though, I catch a story too early. I have one I started in January. It’s set on a similar desolate Earth to “Ash and Dust,” and it’s a continuation of the question of who society leaves behind. Two sisters, a carpenter and a painter, and bicycles, and emptiness, and I thought I had it figured out. And then, when I was halfway through, something else popped into my head. One word, but it completely changed the path of the story.
I could have pushed forward on it, and if I hadn’t been working on Wren, I might have. I think that would have been a mistake. Instead, I’m letting it tumble for a while. At some point the unnecessary pieces will wear away. Then it will be time to tell it.
Rainpocalypse is done and out the door. Not with that title, of course, though it was tempting.
I’m terrible with titles. I love titles, interesting ones, the kind that feel like they could front a thousand different stories, but are truly perfect for just one.
My titles though? I cringe to think about them. I’ve got one story out, one I dearly love and truly think is one of the best things I’ve written, whose title is more or less A Story about Dark and Depressing Things for People Who Long to be Dark and Depressed. At least that’s how it feels at the moment.
Titles are such bold things. They demand attention, reek of confidence. Look at me, they say, I’m not only worth my space in the world, I’m also worth your undivided attention. Great ones capture the essence of a story, which requires that the writer be clear about what that essence is, as well as be prepared to announce it to the world. It’s the difference between A Book about Some Unhappy Times and Some Better Times and War and Peace.
I’ll keep trying. I like to imagine that someday it will take me less time to write a 7,000-word short story than it does to write a five-word title.