Revising

My goal this past summer was to write eight stories between the end of June and the end of August. Eight stories in eight weeks. I felt behind some and came to the finish just one week late. I liked all the stories and knew they needed a lot of revision. I’ve been working my way through them even as I work on a new novel. The stories are coming along very nicely. I’ll be done with the revisions by the end of my winter break and can spend my writing time during the semester working on my zombie/apocalyptic novel.

The stories are quite different than the new work. They weren’t conceived as linked in any way, but because I wrote them in such close proximity to each other, they feel a part of a complete whole. For my money, I think they make a pretty nice collection of stories. I’m revising the last two now. “Sanctuary” started as a goof on the CSI franchise, but goofs don’t necessarily make good stories. I had a couple watching a show called Crime Scene Examination, and suddenly I just didn’t want to make fun of the show, or the people. In fact, the show is helping save my characters’ lives, although I won’t tell you why, or how. So I couldn’t really make fun of CSI and get that across as well. Plus, I like CSI, a fine morality play on TV, all forumla, but good anyway. So, in the story, I tried to write the best two episodes of CSI that I could. The final two shows of the season. If you watch CSI, you’ll recognize the types of people on the show, although I did try to make them their own people, not just copy the characters on television.

The last story also concerns television and is narrated by the child star of a television show called Moon Over Manhattan. Funny that the final two stories of the collection concern television. Maybe I was sub-consciously trying to write stories that TV watchers (like me) might want to read.

Of course, if any CSI producers check this blog and are intrigued by my description of a killer revision of their show and want to buy my storyline and give me a guest slot (I’d totally be a body!) on CSI that will catapult me to fame and fortune and a really cool car:

…that would be okay too. Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Scurvy? I think not.

Everyone is sick here. I refuse to get sick again. No chance. It’s me and my brain against a virus. Not gonna happen. Too much to do. And quite possibly, a whole heck of lot more snow to shovel tomorrow. See this lemon? I’m eating it right now. I’m gonna eat all of them. I whole barrel full. And ginger and about a billion other virus strangling things. One thing is sure, I will not be getting scurvy this winter.

Zombies

Have you heard me talking about zombies and whatnot? I’ve hinted about them, but I’ve not explained exactly why I’m thinking about them so much. First off, where I come from, they aren’t called zombies. I can’t tell you what they’re called yet, because it’s a state secret and I don’t want the feds coming down on me like they did on the poor schmucks over at Wikileaks. Suffice it to say, the folks on this side think the term zombie is pretty silly when confronted with the real thing.

So, that’s the revelation. I’m writing a zombie book. Why? I’ll tell you why: people luv em’. Can’t get enough of the undead. All those movies, that TV show I railed about because of its plot holes, zombie parades, Thriller parties–everywhere you go, people are thinking about the zombie apocalypse. Well, the apocalypse isn’t what you think it’s going to be. The movies have steered you wrong.

The long and the short of it is this: I decided, after a long internal debate, that I wanted to write something that people might actually want to read. My first novel manuscript, called Body of Water, which is safely tucked away where no one will ever see it, was a dark and strange experiment to tell a story of an abduction through a communal voice. Who wants that? No one.

My second manuscript, Ghost Light, explored similar themes–missing people–but was slow paced and only had arson, infidelity, lies, a dark and haunted (but relatively passive) main character, and a shadowy old sea port town in which the characters played out their grief and tried to cope with those who had disappeared. No car chases or pirates. Who wants to read that? No one.

My third manuscript, The Aurora Project, was completely different. I was tired of the darkness and was thinking much of water–Tsunami amounts of water, Noah amounts–so I destroyed the world in the first few pages and then set humanity on a six-thousand year path of renaissance. It’s told in four parts, each separated by about two thousand years or two hundred generations. I like this one. Lots of mythic stuff. Adam and Eve. Migrations. Fires. Mysterious caves. Mysterious people in cloaks who speak a strange language. An invisible, interior sun! Who wants to read that (besides me, I suppose, because I kept writing it because the whole idea jazzed me)? No one, apparently.

I still have hopes for manuscripts two and three. Maybe some smaller, independent press will take a liking to them. Or maybe they aren’t weird enough for the small presses, and too weird for the large presses. I don’t know. Round all of this up with about three dozen short stories (I’m only counting the decent ones here, the flawed or failed ones…that’s a whole other abacus of counting) and you’ll have a pretty good picture of my literary life. Who wants to read short stories in America? A small cadre of people, sure. But mostly, no one. What’s a guy like me to do?

Answer? Zombies. Part of me feels like I’ve given up and am attempting to go commerical, but the other part is really thinking of this as a challenge. I’ve never had a plot driven project. Most of the books I admire are not necessarily rooted in plot–although some have magnificent plots, they just don’t seem like the first things the author thought of. But people want a good tale. They want to turn the pages. And that’s what I’m attempting to do with this manuscript. I’m plotting and writing a loose sketch on 3×5 cards. I’m now figuring out the big middle section. As it turns out, there’s ways a man might profit on the zombie apocalypse. Who knew? Anyway, that’s the new project. Trying to write something people might want to read.

Once I started thinking this way, I thought perhaps I might write other books that people might want to read. So, there’s also a Faerie story in the on-deck circle based on a Faerie family that Grace and I used to imagine together when we were camping. Think you know Faeries? Wrong. Not at all what you think they are.

Plus, there’s a story of some haunted photographs brewing too. All of this and more.

But first, Zombies. But don’t call ’em zombies. That just ain’t right.

Part three of “The Improbable Silence of Moony Burgess”

For those of you following along, here be the next installment of “Moony Burgess.” Please feel free to pass it along to like minded fans of short fiction. If you’ve fallen behind or care to see the other stories I’ve recorded for general listening pleasure, please visit the Stories Out Loud tab above for collected links to the stories I’ve done so far.

Toyota ads…

Top ten things I’d say to the annoying blonde kid in the Toyota commercials that shames his parents into buying a better car:

1. Shut up.

2. We’re doing the best we can. You want me to get a second job so you won’t be embarrassed to be seen with me? Your selfishness is making your grandmother cry.

3. Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.—Buddha

4. That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.—Thoreau

5. Seriously, shut up.

6. We found you in a Kmart. All the customers drew straws to see who took you home. We drew the short straw.

7. Sure, the basement is cold and dark. You’ll get used to it.

8. Elmo does not love you. Get in the car.

9. That car you covet so is a symbol of all that is wrong with American consumerist culture. Besides, I could squash you like a bug.

10.  Every time you talk, God kills a puppy.