State of the Fourth Estate 03

I really don’t write much about my writing here. There are reasons for that, other than the potential for a recursionary death-spiral. But that’s a post for another time.

This time is for the annual “State of the Fourth Estate,” in which I summarize what I’ve been up to writing-wise. I thought I was done with the annual self-assessment when I left the corporate world, but no… At least this one doesn’t involve a company-mandated format, corporate goals that have little to do with my day-to-day tasks, or (ugh!) 360° reviews*. The delights of the 360 weren’t what caused me to abandon the security of employment, but they were certainly a factor.

* If you’ve never been introduced to the joys of the 360, you must be among Heaven’s Elect. For you fortunate souls, here’s how it works: your peers–the cow-orkers you interact with every day–nominate you to give them anonymous feedback on their job performance. Just how anonymous can it be, when you only request two or three reviews? But wait, it gets even better! You’re also expected to write a similarly-anonymous review of your boss! That’s right, the same boss who will be writing your annual review; the one that directly influences your chances of a bonus, raise, and/or promotion. Of course, since the 360° review is anonymous, it won’t affect your boss’ opinion of your work, right?

But I digress.

The blog is now over 400 posts. I’m still using it as a way to try new things–or to experiment with new ways of saying the same damn thing (are you listening, Bay Bridge?)

Not all of the experiments are successful. That’s expected. In writing, just as in Science! you have to plan for the unplanned outcome. But it’s also true that you learn more from the failures than from the experiments that worked out the way you thought they would. I still find it surprising and more than a little sobering that the most popular thing I’ve ever written–the infamous Leftover Sauerkraut post–dates from July of 2013, less than four months after I started blogging. It took Woody Allen decades to get to the point where his fans started complaining that his new movies aren’t as good as his old ones. I’ve been there practically since Day One.

But several posts from the past year are in the Top Ten and people continue to sign up as followers–138 here on the blog, 25 on Facebook, and 7 on Twitter*–so I’m clearly doing something right.

* Yep, seven. As best I can tell, if you’re not already well-known, getting attention on Twitter requires you to commit acts designed to bring about the downfall of civilization and/or get yourself incarcerated to protect you from yourself.

But I digress.

Moving on to the reason I wanted to write: the fiction.

At this time last year, I had two short stories and a poem circulating to editors. I now have four short stories and a poem making the rounds.

I also had a novel that had just gone out to a carefully-chosen cadre of beta readers. I completed The Stairs, The Guides, and the Bay Area Splat Squad, and it’s now making the rounds of agents who represent fantasy and science fiction. One more major milestone on the road to, well, probably not fame and fortune, but at least getting the visions in my head out where the select, fortunate few can see them.

A second novel, Lord Peter’s Eyes, is currently in the hands of a different-but-overlapping cadre of beta readers. Unless the readers uncover structural problems to rival the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch, I expect to have it finished by early summer.

Both Splat Squad and Peter have modern settings. I’m trying something different with my third novel: a historical setting. Agents and publishers, rest assured that it is not Yet Another Pseudo-Medieval Fantasy or Yet Another Victorian Sherlock Holmes Pastiche. I’m not quite ready to talk about the details, but I can say that my office is currently buried in city directories, maps, and history books. Yep, I’m doing actual research for this one. Not allowing myself to Just Make Stuff Up gives the creative process a very different feel. But the fun of finding historical nuggets that leap out at me, screaming “Me, me! Write about me!” is more than worth the price.

On to the next year–including the start of the MLB season in two weeks–and a fresh set of digressions.

4 thoughts on “State of the Fourth Estate 03

    • “Splat” sounds too much like I’m ripping off Terry Pratchett’s “Thud”. But “Splat Squad” is a possibility when the time comes to figure out what will fit on the cover.


  1. Goddess speed to you! I’m curious about the “Splat Squad” title, As your dad will tell you, the editor/publisher may have his or her own ideas about titles, but for now–good working one!


    • Thanks for the good wishes.

      At this stage of the game, curiosity is a good thing. Anything that encourages the agents and editors to take a longer look is a Good Thing. And if a publisher loves the book, but hates the title, I’ll be happy to discuss alternatives.

      Liked by 1 person

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