I’ve been struggling all week with the second story in my Patreon project series. The first draft of the story didn’t make much sense so I had to rewrite two of the middle scenes. I outlined a solution, I even wrote out the scenes, but I was very unhappy with it and I didn’t know why. Yesterday morning, I realized what the problem is. The story now makes sense, but it’s yet another story where a queer character (in this case, a young lesbian) gets screwed over by life.
But… but… I wanted this story to have a happy ending.
People who know me know that I tend to gravitate toward horror and gritty realism. I love film noir. I hate the American cliche of happy endings to everything. I don’t think that life is full of happy endings and I don’t want my fiction to be full of happy endings either.
This tends to butt heads with the facts that I write fiction with LGBTQ+ characters and that living as a queer person in this country is hard enough without all of your fiction being a huge bummer. I don’t want my characters to always have happy endings, because that isn’t realistic. But I don’t want my characters to always have tragic endings, because I primarily write LGBTQ+ characters and there is enough tragedy in queer life already. So I struggle, and sometimes I wish I was a straight person writing generic straight fiction who didn’t have to think about all these things.
In good news, in the draft I wrote this morning, I think I’ve finally managed to strike the tone I wanted.
Holiday weekends and holiday weeks are always hard. In good news, I got to spend a lot of time with my family! In bad news, I didn’t get very much writing done.
The first story in the short story series is Done with a capital “D,” though I’ll probably give it one final read before I launch the project. The second story is a bit more problematic. I’ve discovered that it needs quite a bit of work as I’m reading it through, which is kind of discouraging, but I plan on plugging away at that this coming week.
As with everything writing-related, things tend to take longer than I think they will. It’s taken me about two weeks to get one story from drafted to what I consider reader ready. That said: the first of the Tattoo Magic stories is reader ready and off to my proofreader (Jared). I’ve also spent a good amount of time putting work into my Patreon page. It’s not live yet, but I want it to be ready for launch when I need it.
One down, three to go until launch!
This week, I did both macro and micro revisions to what I think will be the first story in the Tattoo Magic Patreon Project. It’s off to my beta reader (Jared, of course) for first impressions and comments. Once I get three or four of these finished I’ll be ready to launch the project.
Finishing this first story is a huge accomplishment. This story gave me no end of trouble. I eventually had to go back and research some really basic things, like the purpose of short stories, to figure out where it was going wrong. I owe a special thanks to my friend Julius for kicking me into gear for finally fixing the myriad of problems in the story. Right now, I’m quite happy with it.
I’m working on cleaning up short stories for my Patreon project. At this point I have one story that is pretty much good to go, and another story that I’m in the macroediting stage of. The one that is finished, I’m not sure where in the story arc I’m going to place it. Right now it’s the first story, but I’m not sure that it really fits in that location, though for continuity reasons it needs to go before some other stories. I think the second story might make a better first story, but that one needs some serious work.
I also launched a writer page on Facebook and did some Patreon research. So far, this getting up early to work on writing thing is really working for me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing this writing thing backwards. Right now, I’m reading through the short stories I’ve drafted and I’m creating outlines for them.
But don’t you outline first, you ask? For a novel, yes. It just has too many moving parts and if I purely try to discovery write, I will get lost in the weeds and bogged down. But with short stories, I usually just have the idea that I want to do, the character that I want to explore, and run with it. That’s why short stories are fun for me.
Maybe the reason I love short stories is that I’m an outliner by necessity for novels, but in my heart I’m a discovery writer. I tried outlining with short stories, but I discover so much about my characters as I’m writing them, which invariably changes the outline because their decisions have to make sense for them. And there’s a lot less room to get lost in a short story. A couple characters, a single or at most two desires… I can keep all the moving parts in mind at once.
But this means my first draft of short stories tend to meander. And so revision is mostly tightening them up, centering them on the desire and what they need to do to get there and what is or is not getting met. This is particularly true of the story I’m revising right now for my Patreon project. It’s a lovely atmospheric bit of writing… but it doesn’t do what short stories need to do. As I’m reading it and outlining it, I realize I’m going to have to entirely gut and redo the middle.
Such is the writer life.
At this point, I’m just working on revising short stories for the Patreon project. It’s neither fun nor exciting, I’m afraid, but very much a necessary part of the writer life.
I’ve finished four stories of the initial five that I want to have set up as my buffer for my Patreon project. Then I need to revise these stories until they shine, and do some research on Patreon in general, and I’ll be ready to launch. To reiterate, this is the short story project cataloguing the rise, misuse, and fall of a magic system in a secondary-world fantasy setting.
Cue (more) heavy breathing.
This entire thing is making me apprehensive, much more so than my usual querying apprehension. I think it’s because it’s such an unknown. I have to keep reminding myself that this is an experiment, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, even if I’m not entirely sure what ‘working out’ looks like.
Since I’ve made progress to the point where I feel like I should be setting a deadline to be done with editing and so on, my personal, non-binding goal to launch is April 1.
Thanks to a writer-friend inviting me to write once a week at a coffee shop, and another writer-friend having a February writing sprint, I’m now done with three short-story rough drafts for the Tattoo Magic Patreon project. Whee!
I’m currently embroiled in a writing sprint, which is exactly where I need to be in terms of getting stuff ready for my Tattoo Magic Universe project. I’m mostly working on rough-drafting the first few stories, so that I can revise those and get going on the project. I’m torn between being anxious that it won’t be successful and having no idea how to define to myself what successful will look like.
It’s just something I want to do to show myself that I can do it: my little adventure into self-pub. But I want to make money on it to validate to myself that my art has value. And then I want to give some of that money to other queer artists because we need all the support we can get right now.
So far, I’ve modified one entire story to fit into the universe. It always wanted to be in the universe, but it lacked that little extra kick of connection. I’ve moved two stories over (both of which were already set in this setting, but before I had a firm idea of what the setting really WAS), and I’m about 2/3 through drafting the first or second story.
I figure when I have the first four or five stories in the arc good to go, it will be time to actually seriously start that Patreon thing. That would give me four or five months of buffer, which should be good enough to keep the project going even if I don’t have everything drafted out in advance.
I’m also looking at revamping my website and turning it into more of an author website with a blog than a blog about writing. I might do that today or Sunday, or I might push it back until next week. Stay tuned!