Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


Unfinished Business

April 25, 2013 by Richard Wright in Journal, Writing

BooksIt’s been a horrible week for writing. The back pain prohibits my being at my desk, and though there are a few variants of lying down where I can use the laptop I can’t do it for long before the hurt catches up with me.

Still, since the spasms have worn off and I’m back to plain old predictable pain (unpredictable spasms = even more not fun) I’ve been pushing myself to get some stuff done. Yesterday, I plotted a book I’ll be starting to write on the weekend. It will be my Saturday novella for a while, and I’ll return to it once a week until it’s done. The book is called The Weighing of the Heart, and if you’ve been following for a very long time you’ll remember that title. I tried to write it ages ago, but got derailed, so I’m scrapping everything and taking a fresh run at it.

Which gives you an idea of how far I’ve planned ahead. I’ll have at least four more books available by the end of next year, starting with Craven Place in (hopefully) a month or two, then moving on to a trilogy of novellas in 2014 of which Weighing is the second. I’m terrifically excited about all of them.

If you have kept a eye on my stuff for a while, it might have occurred to you that I’ve combined my forays into self-publishing with a desire to take care of unfinished business. Consider:

  • Cuckoo, where this all started, had been out of print for several years before I re-published it in 2011. I knew there was a small demand for the novel, as I received pleasing emails asking after it every now and again, and had looked at approaching publishers to see if they were interested in putting it back in print. The idea of publishing it myself landed before I could send it off, and now the novel is more widely available than it ever was. Unfinished business the first.
  • Thy Fearful Symmetry was a novel that I started over a decade ago, that some people had read the first chapters of online or as an eserial, but which went rapidly off track and wasn’t finished. Now it is, and it’s in print (and still collecting terrific reviews). Unfinished business the second.
  • Craven Place began life as a movie that was filmed but never released (the production company’s money ran out before it completed post-production). I own the rights to novelise my script (which I wrote to spec after devising the plot and characters with the director of the movie), and always wanted to make sure that the story reached people that way. Stories don’t deserve to die because money goes away. Shroud Magazine started to serialise it in their free digital magazine, but that didn’t work out in the end. In a couple of months, the story will be in the world for anybody to explore. Unfinished business the third.
  • The trilogy of novellas I’ll be releasing in 2014, across the year, started a long time ago with a free book I produced as a sampler called The Flesh Remembers. That was available on my website for a long time as a free PDF download. I didn’t finish the other two, as I didn’t feel able to handle distributing the first story wider. That’s not a problem anymore. By the end of 2014, the trilogy will be done and available. Unfinished business the fourth.

As for the future? At the moment, I haven’t planned much past the trilogy. However, the things that are on the board to be self-published include the theatre novel I planned out ages ago, and a serial of six novellettes I started and abandoned when I realised the chance of finding somebody to publish a series of such short books was slim to non-existent. Also unfinished business.

There seems to be a strange dividing line in my head regarding what counts as unfinished business, and what are whole new projects. Some of the new projects, like the current novel and the next I’ll be writing, have been around in my hind-brain just as long the ones I mention above. Perhaps it’s because they haven’t been started in any way shape or form – they were ideas waiting to happen, and not things failing to happen.

At some point, the unfinished business will all be put to bed, and I’ll have caught up to the new projects. How I’ll go about putting those into the world is another matter altogether, and one I’ll be looking at in tomorrow’s freelance blog.

One interesting thing to note, for me anyway, is that many of these ideas lost impetus because of confidence. I’m a very confident writer – making stories is not a problem. My lack of confidence was in publishers and what they wanted. Was there a demand for what I was writing? Will anybody ever get to read this, or am I wasting my time and heading for disappointment? Should I move onto a more ‘marketable’ idea? These are all things that I shouldn’t have let get between the story and me, but I did. These days I’ve the confidence to let you decide whether a book I write should be read. I trust the books to find their readers.

Now that I don’t have to worry about whether a publisher thinks a story is meritorious or timely, I’ve a fresh energy for all of it. I can write, knowing readers will get to judge for themselves. I’ve said before that I don’t think a story is ever complete until somebody reads it, and the freedom to let these be finished is liberating.

Oh yes, there’s one more project planned for 2014. It’s big, and I need your help. I want you to help me make stories. Pop back on Saturday, and I’ll tell you how.

Currently reading (novel): The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

Currently reading (anthology): Chiral Mad, edited by Michael Bailey

Currently reading (anthology): The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stores, edited by Anne and Jeff Vandermeer

Currently reading (non-fiction): The Anatomy Murders by Lisa Rosner

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