As you know, for the last four Mondays I’ve been posting new fiction to the website based on your photos, as part of The 52. When I started this off I didn’t quite know how I’d feel about it. Now I do.
So far, it’s among the most rewarding projects I’ve ever taken on. Not what I expected at all. I hoped it would be fun, but it’s a little bit more than that. It turns out that I love this whole process of writing stories drawn from other people’s view of the world. It really does feel like a collaboration each time, and none of the stories (or anything like them) would have happened without that input. A project that generates immediate reader response is a great thing too. It’s uplifting, especially while I’ve so much going on in the background that I’m not ready to show you yet.
I’m also enjoying the freedom of not worrying about markets. I’m not writing these stories to sell them, so they don’t have anything to conform to. That’s letting me try some different things. I hope they all turn out well, but if some of them don’t quite gel then it’s not a big deal. There’s always next week.
I’m getting a fantastic workout too. Writing long fiction has always drawn me more than writing short, and by the end of this project I’ll have written more short fiction here than I’ve written anywhere else. I hope I’ll be a better short story writer for it.
Yesterday I took a peek at the website stats, in particular the number of views each story has had, filtering the results at two minute visits. I figure anybody who was on one of those pages for two minutes or more read the story. It was interesting – like my own private edition of American Idol, but with fiction. While working out how they ranked, I decided it would be fun to collect some of them into little books. I’ll publish one at the six month mark, and a second at the end of the year. It’s very likely that I’ll use one or more of the images as a cover, subject to agreement from the collaborators in question. The books will be a simple affair, kindle only, for anybody who wants to sample the project without scrolling through the website (the stories will stay online and free permanently). I don’t expect they’ll sell much, but that’s liberating too. There’s no pressure, as it’s just for fun.
Each volume will have ten stories in it. I’ll choose them based on the page views at the time of publication. When we hit six months I’ll look at the ranks and take the most viewed ten (whether they’re my personal favourites or not). I’ll do the same for the second part of the year.
So if you have a favourite that you’d like to see on the table of contents, share it! The more reads, the better a chance it has. For the record, of the stories already published the rankings to date are:
I’ll take another look in four weeks or so and let you know how they’re getting on. I’ll tell you how I go about writing them too, if that’s of interest. It’s more seat-of-the-pants than you probably think.
There are still some slots empty at the end of the year – at least ten – so if you want to play you’re welcome to send a photo or piece of art along. The initial post about the project is here, and will let you know what you’re getting into.
Busy day on Monday. As well as a new short story (probably called ‘Paper Cuts’), I’ll be launching my novel The Flesh Market. Part of the reason the blog has been quiet over the last couple of weeks has been due to all the behind the scenes work on getting the novel ready – it’s been a little more stressful than usual, and has left me drained for lots of other things. This week I quietly published it (if you can’t wait until after the weekend, you’re welcome to go and search for it) to make sure any problems with the listings were resolved before I properly pointed people towards it. I hope you’ll pop back after the weekend and help me celebrate it. The tricky labour is all but done, and it’s about time we induced a birth…
Currently reading (non-fiction): Survival of the Fittest: The Anatomy of Peak performance, Mike Stroud
Currently reading (novel): Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
Currently reading (novel): Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
Currently reading (short stories): Iris: Fifteen, edited by Stuart Douglas
Currently reading (short stories): The Weird, edited by Jeff Vandermeer