Tokyo Inferno is now just south of 40K words. It “feels” about a little less than halfway done, so it’ll probably come in at 100K proper — about the length I’ve been aiming for with most of my work.
A couple of conventions ago when I was sitting in on a panel about writing, someone popped the question: how long should a story be? My own answer to this was something like “Where’s the ‘should’?” Meaning that you always want to look into what’s compelling you to make the thing the length you feel is right. I don’t have a particular ambition to write anything the size of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, if only because I’m pretty sure anything I would have to say would be long exhausted before I ever got to even the 500 page mark, let alone the 900 or 1,085 or however many pages that elephantine thing is.
On the other hand, I have the worst time with short stories. I cannot pull off anything that compressed — or, rather, I haven’t been able to do that since I left high school. Back then I was able to throw down a story a week or so for class, but a) that was high school and b) I was not turning out anything I’d want to unearth and parade around now. What few ideas I feel are worth dwelling on at all typically get turned into long-form pieces because that’s where I feel like I’m getting the most for my effort.
There are some shorter pieces that are probably worth polishing and anthologizing at some point. Two come to mind: “A Review Of The International Anthology of Android Literature, 2nd Edition [Revised]” and “Shunga-Satori”. The former’s a story in the form of a book review (think one of Dale Peck’s self-professed hatchet jobs); the latter’s one of those pieces that wanders around freely between psychological horror and straight fiction and confessional epistolary writing and who knows what else. I’d probably want to pack them together with a third or maybe even a fourth item in one volume and add that to the catalog. No title yet save maybe for Shunga-Satori and Other Stories, or something equally unassuming.
People who can bang out short stories are like the folks who can tie cherry stems in a knot with their tongue. It’s such a little thing, but damn, dude, the fact that you can do it at all is monumental.
After what I can only describe as some horribly tedious rock climbing I managed to get past the rewrite that had been bugging me in Tokyo Inferno. It wasn’t even all that big a section — maybe a thousand words, tops — but how to do it and how to rewrite the character in question were the two big killers. It was the endless stop-and-start nature of the whole thing that was deadly, like trying to pull a car out of an icebank when you have no handy cardboard, cat litter, tire chains, tow trucks or UFOs with tractor beams to get you through.
From here on out it should be slightly smoother sailing, with my projected date for a completed first-draft manuscript sometime around the end of April or so. That’ll give me a good 3-4 months time to clean it up, prep the presentation, and create some promotional material. (In the works: a series of “blurb” postcards with eye-grabbing first sentences from the books they promote, instead of just images. Should be interesting to see how those go down when I spread ‘em around.)