Saturday 26 July 2014

The 1999 short story

I'm finding it hard to adjust to a full-time job - above all, and with the heat and non-air conditioned office, I'm exhausted when I come home. And it's not easy to be in an office with other people, either. The team is perfectly lovely, and the geek, military and history quotient is high, but I'm not used to being around around people for 9hrs a day, plus 2hrs of commute on packed London trains.

Anyway. Cleaned the library, put up the massage table and got everything ready for my "body" to  show up - researched diabetes and massage (diabetes being a contra-indication, so did some research what to keep in mind to keep my client safe) and chiseling away at that short story I wrote in 1999. I've already lined up a cover artist and an editor, but it'll need work before I can even think of putting it into production.

There's a scene that's a flashback to Afghanistan and it's pretty clear I wrote this without having the foggiest about either the Red Army or Afghanistan, so I corralled all my research books I bought for Special Forces back in the days and am doing some reading. (So much for lining up an "easy victory" to boost my motivation - I don't think this will be quite as fast as I'd hoped.) All for a scene that's less than 250 words. I don't want to cut it, so I must get this just right, but for that, I need to know. So yeah, I'm the kind of writer who reads five books to get one scene right. What a colossally inefficient way to work. My German DNA is shriveling in disgust.

So, yeah, that's what I'm doing. Research the hell out of Afghanistan/Red Army, and try to fix that story by doing a simultaneous re-write/translation. It's fascinating to see how far I've come in the last 15 years. I'm definitely less clunky these days - more controlled and measured overall. Also less given to melodrama and cliche. I know some people think I'm a "cold" writer (somebody even called me "robotic") and somebody told me I'm "very proficient craft-wise, but soul-less", and that's fine. I'm aiming for understatement generally, which is not everybody's cuppa, and if there's one thing I've learned from painting is that the absence of something is just as powerful (if not more so) than its presence. Some people prefer for everything to be on the page, but having everything spelled out bored me witless as a reader.

It appears editing that story is almost like writing it from scratch, which wasn't what I intended, but oh well. It's still worthwhile to resurrect an old story I've always loved and thus excavate another piece of my creative past.

Also, Return on Investment has sold almost 250 copies at this stage. Sell-through rate is way down to about 8-10 per day, but that's as expected. I'll use some of those profits to acquire some copyrights and finance editing and covers of other books, so thanks everybody for buying a copy - you're helping me keep this going.

1 comment:

  1. But isn't it your German DNA that's making you read those 5 books for the 250 words in the first place. Because it must be RIGHT! ;)