Due to getting bogged down for the longest time in working on my first novel, I’ve decided to cleanse my palette a little bit by getting back to the thing that brought me to the writing dance in the first place: short stories.
From Scratch is going to be an ongoing documentation of my journey from searching for an idea through to (hopeful) completion and submission of a story.
Burning out on writing sucks.
I didn’t realise that was what was happening to me at first – surely, I was just struggling with working on a novel, right? Anyone transitioning from writing a tightly edited 6000 words is going to feel overwhelmed trying to make an 80,000 word story come together properly, never mind then having to redraft multiple times.
I kept telling myself that, even as I found myself doing less and less work on it. Worse, despite knowing that I do my best from a productivity standpoint when I have multiple projects underway simultaneously, I kept trying to laser focus in on this one project that I was growing to hate-hate (instead of my usual love-hate that I have with all my work).
No longer! A random run-in on Facebook led to me finding the following call for submissions for water-themed speculative fiction. This is perfect – a short story window I can aim for that, even if I am not successful, will challenge me to come up with a concept taking into account a theme I may have otherwise never arrived at. Even better, it’s open to all spec fic sub genres, which tickles my recent urges to get back into the fantasy and sci-fi spaces.
In the end I arrived at a fork in the road, one way leading back to my dark fantasy world I have previously explored in Heart Eater and an upcoming as-yet-unnamed novella. The other leading me to a space opera vision of pirates and revolutionaries I’ve had in the back of my mind since I first read the Rogue and Wraith Squadron books of Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston.
I decided to write quick summary pitches of both stories, to give me an idea of a broad plot outline I might decide to follow:
PLACEHOLDER, follower of the Ocean Path and medic for a band of mercenaries, has a crisis of conscience when her leaders accept a job to slaughter a village of orcish civilians. Abandoning her post, she goes to the orcs and uses her healing powers to keep the civilians alive in the face of overwhelming odds, even as she struggles with their distrust of her, the betrayal of her former friends, the demands of her pacifistic religion, and the knowledge that every person she heals brings the deaths of them all inevitably closer.
Captain Ayla Neshitani – space pirate, insurgent, and reluctant revolutionary – is tasked with a mission to steal the Calayasii, a derelict fuel tanker-turned-shrine from Ter, the spiritual home of the Cobalt Imperium. Ayla’s squad is to infiltrate the ocean world, fill the Calayasii to the brim with holy water, and retrieve it for sale to the highest bidder. Of course, things don’t quite go according to plan, and Ayla finds herself faced with an unexpected ethical question regarding exploiting the spirituality of her enemies.
Which will I choose?
Tune in for Part 2.