Rejection, onwards!

Today, I received a letter from Black Static, the address written in my fair hand. Of course, the first response was a flutter in my chest and a quiet, upbeat, “Ooh!” The second response was to lever the edge of my keys under the flap and tear the aperture apart. I’m not sure if I directly expected the form rejection slip within, but I think part of me always did. (Another, more optimistic part, thought that the bulkiness of the envelope was caused by a lot of cheques rather than the advertising leaflet within.)

I’m not surprised, and I’m not saddened. I have read far too often that rejection is the most common bedfellow of the early writer. Conveniently, I seem to have internalised that straightforwardly enough – but I think I’ve always been oddly good at this: somehow mildy impervious to rejections from Oxford and UCL, much to the annoyance of my then lady.

There’s nothing more that can be done, so onwards.

Two paths beckon.

The first is the most simple. Keep on writing, keep on sending. Rejection slips are proof that work is getting finished and read. A readership of one is better than an unfinished manuscript, and I’d be more arrogant that I’d humbly admit if I expected 100% of my readers to enjoy my work. To that end, I need to finalise “Phage” and I need to actually write that steampunk Macbeth.

The second is a forked path, and where my dilemma lies: I could send “The Trees” and “Not a Bedtime Story” to another market and hope for publication and success. (I’ve been told by people whose readerly opinion I trust that they are of publishable quality, even if they’ve yet to be sold.) Or, I could save time submitting to markets that I’d need to find and spend that on new creation. Really that makes the most sense.

So what to do with these finished stories? I’m loath to let them rot in a digital fortress until they gain sentience and lose sanity. I don’t want to self-publish them, because I’d have to spend creativity time on making a good looking e-product. I had thought of combining a few of my similarly mythosed stories together. I still may.

The most likely option is to give them away, but the precise howness I have yet to decide. Really I ought to use the opportunity to gain a proper mailing list like Writing Magazine keeps telling me I should. That would require the software and the investment in actually writing a newsletter of sorts beyond the intermittance here. Is it worth it? Or shall I polish them into simple PDFs, put the download links here and elsewhere, with the links back to the site and the suggestion that people pass the e-papers onwards?

Either way, onwards.

Rejection, onwards!

H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space”


I’ve been a fan of Lovecraft for a long time – originally read his words through the delightful Wordsworth editions of Tales of Mystery and Suspense. I first read ‘Dagon’, and was blown away. Its tightness and its power enthralled me, and I’ve since taken it upon myself to read much, much more of his work.

‘The Colour Out of Space’ comes recommended by Will of Spooky Reads (a cracking horror review site no less), who suggested reading it alongside my own Trees (that bled blood).

I can see why he suggested it – aside from being a notably weird tale, it deals with the co.concept of the corruption of nature most well.

Lovecraft’s archaic style is evident, and shews most strongly in his writing*. He is well known for his ability to recount horrific events. Nothing is seen directly by the reader; everything is evoked by the narrator’s reflection, and your brain is left to fill in the considerable gaps in understanding. This conjures the inhuman terror well – indeed, what could be more horrific than the nameless things from our own imagination?

This tale steps a further step backwards – the evident horror is recounted by the nameless narrator who interviews a local man, Ammi Pierce, about his experience from the past. Rather than increasing the horror here, I feel the reporting narrator mellows it, but in doing this the dread becomes most notably extant.

The edition I read is a very nice Penguin Pocket Classics one – and for only three pounds was well worth the investment. It comes with The Outsider, which I’ve not read, and The Hound, which I have.

A great place to start with Lovecraft, if notable for the absence of his Cthulhu mythos.

* Forgive the pastiche.

H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space”


Last night, I decided that I was going to write a novel.

The temptation has always been floating at the back of my mind, hinted towards by the interesting idea of National Novel Writing Month and my previous thoughts on the matter. However, the major argument against has always been that I’m not sure what I’d write about.

That changed last night.

A story has been kicking around in my head for a number of years – originally intented to become an epic poem or something of the sort, or at least a short story. Last night I realised that the story is large enough to be able to fill a novel: in fact, the added space and need would enlarge the story interestingly.

The story tells of a man named Irgard, who bemoans that his father favours his brother. To this end, he allows his brother to be killed in battle and then kills his father who, it transpires, is one of Odin’s selected warriors to fight beside him at Ragnarok. As the valkyries come to take his father’s soul, Irgard is cast down to Nifleim, where he slays the dragon Nidhogg and eventually leads the Frost Giants in the war against the gods which brings about the end of the world.


Okay, so it’s quite a large story.

Since deciding I’m going to turn it into a novel, though, ideas have been crystallising in my head. Points and ideas at the beginning have been developed, and more internal logics are slotting together.

My major question is now, when to start it? I’ve been reading through this guide on finishing a novel, so I suppose I should finish the Trees first.

But do I wait until NaNoWriMo to start this? Or do I start it sooner?


World Book Day

First of all, another confession. I teach English (lang and lit) in a Newham secondary school, and yet until I read the tweets celebrating World Book Day this morning, I hadn’t realised it was today. What this says about the current state of reading’s importance in the National Curriculum is telling, but this is a topic for another blog.

This WBD* finds me thinking of novel-writing.

The Trees (That Bled Blood) is in its final stages of development (with especial thanks to Will from Spooky Reads for his lengthy feedback), and aside from the steampunk project, I’m turning my mind to the future and later prospects.

In the last year of my degree, I completed a course called Writing the Novel. Aside from often calling it Wiring the Navel, the major recollection I have is of my enjoyment at telling aspects of a larger story. (My tutor was a man called Christian DeFeo, whose blog you should read and whose book I should.) No complete novel came from the course, but I did write aspects of a novel set in a science-fantasy world of my creation and another called Uzi Gellar, Psychic Commando, and the Zombie Apocalypse.

While I imagine that I would like to write a novel in the future, I’m not sure that I have the time at the moment to consider it. I’m not sure I have the story.

And I’m not sure I know how I’m going to find out these answers.

* World Book Day, surely?**

**Unless I meant Wise Big Dog / Dragon.

World Book Day