Do not fear the title! I’m not going anywhere. No, in fact, it is that I have already gone and during my brief interlude I have cruised through three books.
- Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.
- Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
- Stephen King’s On Writing.
After completing my second attempt at reading On Writing, I found myself laughing alongside Mr King, even as he described his near-death experience at the hands of an inattentive driver. It took two attempts (roughly four years apart) to actually get through the first half of his book. You see, as a lover of fantasy, I never much admired his writing. The Dark Tower drew me close, but I never really made any connection to the rest of his works. Horror (aside from Lovecraft) does nothing for me. But on this attempt at reading his memoir or his advice, something had changed. Something big. Something called Jefferson & The Magician’s curse.
Four years ago I shut my eyes, shook my head and spat; I didn’t want to hear what this old writer had to say. Sure, he was successful. Sure, he was published. But goddamnit, I just didn’t care about the story of his youth and his struggles. I know, I am a jerk, but at least I’m honest. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t relate to him as a person, it was him as a writer that I couldn’t relate to. Here he was talking about a thousand words a day and living story to story and at the time I was struggling at how to organise my thoughts into an arrow and aim for the target.
It was hopeless.
Then, somewhere along the line, I smashed out a novel. With a quick twist at the end, one novel became two, then three. The antagonist reared his head, beat his chest and demanded another novel. Four. The world that I was building then gave me the question of what happens two thousand years later? Oh man. Another trilogy. The levy had broken and the world was gushing through my fingers and onto the screen. Magicians ran parallel to angels and demons and all ran alongside a fabricated war that was to bring about the extinction of the human race.
I’d never finished a novel before. Short stories were as far as I’d managed and only one was worth sending out into the world. I realised that I could write a novel, no I could write seven… if only someone would pay me for it. This is what sparked my sudden interest in reading again. I needed to know what others did to get there.
Both King and Bradbury did something I never considered. They both got published in Fantasy or Sci-Fi magazines and much like working at McDonald’s or volunteering for experience on a resume, I’d never considered building a writing portfolio of this kind. When I say “of this kind”, what I mean is an actual resume with references and editions and people to give me feedback. I posted all my writing to this blog and it’s only been a problem once when I went to submit one of my posts from my gaming days for a publication. They loved it and wanted to actually publish it, but refused to because I’d already published it myself. A wasted effort in retrospect as for the blog, it got maybe twenty views, but on their website, they get thousands of hits an hour.
Damn it to hell, right?
Back to Bradbury and King and their magazines for a second though. I started jotting down some notes into a new idea, exclusively for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. King himself has been published in there (with The Dark Tower no less) so my interest has been piqued. For some unknown reason, I decided to go through a bag of books I’d bought at a local book fair and lo and behold, what did I find?!
An actual copy of Fantasy and Science Fiction for July/August of 2016!
Some days, it’s hard enough to put one foot in front of the other to get where you need to go. Other days, such as this, the path literally plots itself out for you. Eagerly, I breezed through its pages and found some writing that was high quality. I also found some that I loathed. Best of all though, I found that I already had a story that fit the style and tone of the magazine.
And the peasants rejoiced.
This is a two-fold win! Number one, I have a great new idea for a story that I can still write and use for perhaps another magazine, perhaps for myself. Really, I just can’t wait to write it. Number two, I can test my editing chops (the story itself is fantastic, the writing… *ahem* has yet to be edited) and use an old story that I love. Some spit, polish and love tomorrow (which happens to be my day off, seriously though, timing and props involved… I couldn’t make this stuff up) and that story may actually be ready to be sent off by the end of the goddamn week!
All in all, I’m feeling pretty good. This year has been huge for me and my lovely girlfriend turned fiancee and it just keeps getting bigger. We are building our dream house (complete with writing room)! We got engaged (at Hobbiton, in New Zealand)! More news I can’t post about for at least ten days that is also fantastic for my partner!
The question that remains now though is, do I tempt fate? Everyone has heard of the story of Icarus, the boy who flew too high and his wax wings melted from the sun’s warmth. As we fly high, do I dare push higher? I’d like to think there’s no risk in doing so, but with so many great things going on, it really feels like something has to stop this year from being so incredible.
Or maybe… just maybe… this is our year.
I should make the most of it.