Friday, December 18, 2009

A Confession

I’m hoping that it isn’t quite as apparent to anyone reading the story as it is to me while I’m writing it, but I have no idea where this project is going to lead or even how long it’s going to be. There, I said it.

Rain started off, as I’ve said before, as a way of passing time at my old job. Some nights I would write what I call “Thousand-Word Exercises,” where I would come up with an interesting premise, a particularly vivid mental image or snippet of dialogue and write about that for a thousand words or more. Some of the short stories I wrote during that time period (many of which are unpublished) began as a Thousand-Word Exercise, and it was fun for me so long as I was able to come up with an appropriate topic.

At some point, though, I decided to work on a serial story. It was after reading Genichiro Takahashi’s Sayonara, Gangsters that I decided it would be some kind of bizarre, postmodern experiment in novel writing. Unfortunately, I can’t shake my habits that easily and after the first chapter of Rain was typed out my usual writing style prevailed. Still, it was a lot of fun to work on, even though my job picked up after a while (not to mention my office becoming the go-to place to stash coworkers on light duty/disability, rendering my workspace none too private). After a few months a chapter every day or two trickled to a chapter every week or more, but the story never completely left my head.

Several months after my position in the company was downsized out, I returned to Rain, penning another chapter or two. It seemed like I was always too busy to devote my sole attention to the story, though I was fascinated with the two main characters. They were unlike anything I’d ever worked on before. At the time, though, I was finishing up the rewrites of In the Teahouse and beginning to plot what would later become Ghostbox, and I couldn’t force myself to take on two lengthy projects at once.

That’s when I decided to make Rain an internet serial. It was never the kind of story I considered submitting to publishers. It was too new to me, too uncertain, too weird. It was, however, the perfect story to release to friends, blog readers and any other interested parties online. I’d just met Dan Halloway and had seen his success with The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes, so I decided to take it to Facebook, where it remains to this day, updated on Mondays and Fridays.

Enough backstory. This has to be at least my third telling of it, and it’s sounding boring even to me now.

On to what this post is about.

Up until the twenty-fourth chapter or so, I was working with the material I’d written during the night shifts at my old job and the stuff I’d penned during my first months of unemployment. Now, however, when I sit down to update the project I’m literally writing the chapter an hour or less before it goes live. At first, this was a terrifying feeling, but as I’ve gone on I’ve found it easy to adapt to. Still, the anxiety of wondering whether or not the story will move forward (or even be worth anything) never quite leaves, and I wonder each time I do it whether this will be the last time or not. I certainly hope not, but I never know if I’m going to run out of usable material or back Addison up into a corner that I can’t write her out of. If I end up doing something incredibly stupid that needs a deus ex machina, I’m done. I won’t continue writing something that I can neither enjoy nor respect, so this is quite understandably a big fear of mine.

I spent a lot of time on the days I don’t update brainstorming the coming chapters and possible scenarios for the characters, but I never know until the moment I start OpenOffice what I will end up doing. It’s a real rush, but it’s also a bit nerve-jangling. What if I write something completely stupid and unreadable? What if this chapter is completely useless to the plot? What if, dear god, I contradict myself and make a statement that goes completely against something I said way back when?

I guess all of this comes with the territory, but seeing as I’ve never done something like this before (and can only be called the most novice of novelists), it all seems so new and terrifying to me.

The story goes on, though, into the foreseeable future, until I wrap this baby up or run it into the ground.

Mail me at, and look forward to another so-fresh-its-gooey-on-the-inside update on Monday.


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