Over the last week, I've been moving forward with Journals of Fedran despite some setbacks. I still think it will be an interesting idea, but after some conversations, I'm beginning to doubt it.
I'm still going to do it, but that doesn't mean that Inner Critic isn't sitting on my shoulder whispering “you're insane, everyone will hate it.” I hate that aspect of writing, the self-doubt that hang over my head as I write. I just learned how to keep writing even when its whispering at me. It's the only way I can keep moving forward.
The Writing Group
One of the writers had to pull out at the writing group this week, so I submitted two of my stories in their place. The more people who read it, the better. While writing something, I don't always see the flaws but having others talk about it usually bring it out in the open.
The two pieces I submitted are:
- Farimon's Revelation: This is a story inspired by a lot of artists that I've read about, not to mention counter-cultures, inventors during the early 20th century. It's a piece about drugs and invention, and how a world-altering discovery sometimes comes from the strangest of places.
- The Silk Touch: A high society romance where debutantes are presented, courtship takes years, and everything from the color of the dresses is planned years ahead.
Farimon's wasn't very popular. A few of the writers like it except for some specific issues, but most of the table wasn't fond of it. The biggest complaint is something I can work on, but “the protagonist isn't very likable” came up a few times. That's an interesting problem because Farimon is based on two things. In his personal life, he's an addict who says the right things to people with money and obsesses about solving the world's problems with no concern for anyone else. After he changed the world, he was thrown up on a pedestal and most of his fans ignored the darker aspects of his life and only talked about the positive.
Silk on the other hand had a straight divide across the table. Those who read romance novels thought it was fantastic and those who didn't pretty much said “I'm not your target audience.” Those who loved romance tried to encourage me to “not waste” it on the Journals and to create a full-blown novel out of it and submit it under a different byline.
I'm actually considering that, but I really want a romance piece in the Journals. Silk is a sweeping story, so I'm going to pull it out and replace it with Second-Hand Dresses which is set in the same city as Silk but doesn't quite follow the language of romance novels as closely.
I'm Not Your Target Audience
I think this is actually going to be the hardest part of the story. Looking at the range of genres I'm planning on writing, I think it is a cool idea to show different styles of writing (forensics, romance, pulp adventure) but it also means that if the first story in the collection doesn't appeal to someone, they may not find the story that might be latter that does.
At the same time, I read almost all genres and I like them. I love the different styles and touches they have, the language and flow that works for one genre but not another.
I may not be great at writing any of them, but that doesn't mean I don't want to write it. I'm having fun doing it, at least the first six stories.
Though, I might consider a byline for the romance ones. So far, that has a potential to stand on its own, but I'm going to clean up the next couple of chapters and send it to the romance lovers and see if they think it has potential. (Same applies to anyone else who is interested in reading an alpha version of a Regency-inspired romance in a steampunk world.)
Status of Journals
So, a week is past and I've gotten quite a bit of writing. In addition to the two above, I have:
- The Cros Gambit: A violent sports short where someone with electrical powers manages to get a high scoring game at the cost of his life. Basically obsession and sports. (1st Draft)
- Raging Alone: Desòchu's coming of age, a contrast to his his younger brother's rite in Sand and Blood. (1st Draft)
- Simple Goren: A fable about the perils of disobeying parents. (1st Draft)
- Under the Streets: A Mudd Fourier, a forensics mage I created quite a few years ago. It's not a murder mystery, but just a story to get me back into his head. (1st Draft)
- A Cup of Soup: A story of a mother and daughter struggling with using magic. (1st Draft)
- Second-Hand Dresses: A romance serial of a near spinster meeting up with the man who ruined her life. (1st Draft)
- Ramus and the Savage Slasher: A pulp adventure, somewhat formulaic and completely over the top. (1st Draft)
- All five essays. I have topics on two on clashball (the sports game), resonance, Farimon's accomplishments, and one on units of measurement. (1st Draft)
- Lessons on Miwāfu and names in the world. (1st Draft)
- All five poems are done. One of the poems is interesting since it is a Miwāfu one and I had to come up with a language-centric style. (Done)
- An introduction to the Journals, editor notes of sorts.
All of these names are subject to change. Actually, everything might change as I work out the ideas. This also brings me out to twenty-seven thousand words. With the second drafts, the word counts will probably increase and I should be right at thirty thousand, my goal.
I actually only have three things left to do:
- Create some advertising for various products in the Journals. These are going to be graphical, probably using images I can, but should give a nice flair.
- Come up with the newspaper-style introductions to the pieces. It isn't going to be a simple title, but as short block of text. Also not sure how I'm going to write these for the formatting system.
- Create the cover or covers. At some point, I suspect these will be Creative Commons licensed pieces (but not to start with). If that happens, I'll break each one into a separate ebook with its own cover.
There are also some secondary pieces:
- The calendar for Tarsan. I've written the desert one, but I need the non-desert one for the Farimon essay.
Is This the Same World?
This was a question that came up during the writing group. The group has been fantastic reading all three of the Sand series, which has shown them a very specific culture in the world. And only one of my planned pieces actually ties into those novels.
It is the same world and roughly the same time. My reason for that came from probably one of the strangest places: airplanes and travel. When I sit down on a bus, a train, a plane, I have a tendency to find the person who likes to talk. And we talk, about life and anything else that comes up.
I've come to the conclusion that the world is a starkly different place, like two completely separate worlds in some cases. I have had a number of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Indian coworkers. The things they describe in their life is different than growing up in a suburb of Chicago or near the middle of Iowa. Sitting on a plane heading to South Carolina, I saw a different world. Visiting Mississippi, the same thing. Reading biographies of famous people paints another different story, one that doesn't really mesh with my personal experiences.
One of my goals with Fedran is to create a rich world. And, for me, that means differing stories that tie together as a whole but are not thematically related.
It is also a challenge. I think a lot of writers struggle to create starkly different characters and worlds. I don't like bigots, which is why I try to write them. I don't like violence, so I write it.
I'm still having fun
Yeah, I'm still having fun. This is a grand challenge to write. I have some nasty little things to finish up (paying for an editor), but overall, I think I now have a solid idea of how this first Journals is going to work. And I still like it.