Finished new draft of short story, “Scattered Along the River of Heaven”. In many, many ways, a horrible story, dealing with languages, the aftermath of revolutions, and colonialism; and a very painful one to write. It’s funny how my process has evolved: I used not to care so much about the contents of my stories, now I feel like I’m being much more ambitious in what I expect of them (complex background, deep characters, and a passable plot); and I end up writing stuff that feels like a failure–because I can never quite convey all that I wanted to in the allotted space…
Though I think that I’ve finally mastered the art of the short scene: before, I wanted scenes to be a complete unit–I would write a scene that held the entirety of a conversation between two characters, for instance, instead of excerpting the conversation. Now I’ve grown ruthless, and I can keep a story like this one under 6k words–not quite effortlessly, but close.
Anyway, a short editing pass is in order, and then I’ll post it up on OWW for feedback before shipping it off. I have a sinking feeling it’s a dismal failure…
(also, this is the last f%%%ing time I write a story that depends on four linked pseudo-Chinese poems, because those are a pain to write. Especially when they have to include planets, and spaceships, and space stations…)
I grieve to think of the stars
Our ancestors our gods
Scattered like hairpin wounds
Along the River of Heaven
So tell me
Is it fitting that I spend my days here
A guest in those dark, forlorn halls?
This is the first poem Xu Anshi gave into our keeping; the first memory she shared with us for safekeeping. It is the first one that she composed in High Mheng–which had been and remains a debased language, a blend between that of the San-tay foreigners, and that of the Mheng, Anshi’s own people.
What about you? How has your process changed? Do you feel that as time passes, you can tell more and more complex stories? Do they increasingly feel like failures, or is that just me?