As you may guess, I wasn’t the random recipient of an inheritance wherein I had to publish To Timothy.
Now, I’m not discounting the possibility that an interdimensional being planted the words in my head, along with instructions to publish them. You never know with those things. Those Old Ones are tricky.
Man have I learned that the hard way…
Anyhoo, the reason I dredged this blog up from the depths of WordPress purgatory was specifically to publish Timothy. After a few rounds of critique and a rejection letter or two it became painfully obvious this story needed a medium where the reader had to stop and take action, something plausible to stop you from reading on. Simple line or page breaks weren’t gonna cut it.
I remembered the online media experience that is 17776 – What football will look like in the future. (Serious aside here–If you haven’t read 17776 stop reading right now and move that mouse/finger to that link as fast as humanly possible. It’s a bit long, roughly a novella’s worth of words, and your brain will ask, “What the hell just happened to me?” But you’ll thank me later.)
Timothy isn’t quite that long. It only clocks in at about 2500 words, so rather than use the page breaks to direct the reader to various reaches of the interwebs and break up the story a la chapters, I just needed to make sure the reader understood that the “intended reader” aka Timothy Stewart Sedgewick needed to stop at points and go do the thing before reading on.
What made me write To Timothy in the first place?
Glad you asked.
To Timothy got its start, like with most writing, with a simple concept. I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing., and at one point he described writing as (paraphrasing) “communicating with your reader across time and space.” For some reason this idea stuck with me, and my mind took it literally. What if a story actually communicated with a specific person? Who would be the author? Who would be the recipient? Why would this message be written? What on Earth lead to this mess?!
From there the story flowed pretty easily. It all hinges on the reader understanding that they are not the intended audience. It comes together in its own negative space. You’re listening in. You’re reading one half of the most interesting public cell phone call you’ve ever witnessed.
“What is happening on the other end of that phone call?!”
Honestly, the best feedback on this has been the need for more. The What happened? The Who is xyz? The What’s going on? Normally those aren’t good things to hear in your writing critiques, but here they’re the whole point. We don’t know what happened to Bobby. We don’t know who the antagonist is. There’s some vague cult and strange happenings from beyond. The military is involved, but not very helpful. Something big went down a while back involving the “author”, the general, and Tim’s dad Gus. Maybe Gus is the Bobby of that story. Maybe he’s the Kelly. I’m not telling…yet. I’m just saying history tends to repeat, and I may have already said too much.
What else are you writing, Harry?
Glad you asked that too. Thanks for changing the subject. I really didn’t want to let it slip that Bobby’s the author.
I’m still editing the heck out of Core Logic. A small group of my writing buddies have begun a critique group that is already reaping big rewards in my craft. Not many people have read my stuff. Just a handful of friends and family. And after reading back through the Core Logic first draft I pity them. Like a lot of new authors I went through that phase after my first novel draft when I was like, “I wrote a BOOK! Everyone read it! It’s heading to the bookshelves. You’ll find it on Amazon in a week or two! New York Times Bestseller here we come!”
That is what we like to call in NaNoWriMo a “Pantsed” novel. Meaning I wrote it by the seat of my pants, no plot, no characters, just an vision and a keyboard. In hindsight I’m really surprised it’s as good as it is. It’s got a pretty clear beginning, middle, and end. It has a nice palate of characters to work with, and some amazing themes are emerging the more I work on it.
But that’s the thing. I have to WORK on it. It’s a chapter by chapter slog. I made it through a first pass last year where I fleshed out all the parts where I “told” the reader what was happening. In the heat of NaNoWriMo whilst making a daily wordcount I tended toward saying,”This happened, and then this happened, and then this. And it affected this character that way, and because that, then this happened.” Imagine 67,000 words of that.
It’s much better now.
The second pass is hitting on the characters and themes. Now that I know all the events these characters are going through, I can make sure they’re reactions to it are “in character”, and I can make sure the reader identifies with my characters as they go. Also, a book has to say something. The themes of the book hit on that goal.
AND WHILE I’M DOING THAT. I plan to finish Hated during NaNo this year. I love the heck out of that book. It was ever so slightly more planned out than Core Logic, but it hit a dead end around the climax. At first glace at the first draft, there’s a bunch that needs help. So while it’s already 50,000+ words, it can easily grow to twice that.
That’s all I have for now.
Talk to you all on the other side of November!
And Please Please Please Vote.