Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Heavy Hitter

Okay, yeah, I've been scarce of late. But I've got a good excuse. See, I've been writing. Writing a lot.

It all started about a month ago. Got an e-mail from a friend of mine. Said he wanted a story for his new magazine -- something hardboiled, noir -- and he wanted it to be a long one. And okay, I'd never written a short longer than 6,500 words, but I'm not one to turn down a writing gig.

Three weeks later, I crossed the finish line on The Hitter, a big, sprawling, man-I-hope-epic tale of violence, loss, and redemption. How big, you ask? (Yes, I know you didn't ask. It's a rhetorical device; roll with it.) Just a hair over 11,000 words.

Yeah, that's a lot.

And it turns out, I kinda dug sinking my teeth into such a long story. It felt more novelistic in its construction, in its characterization, in its scope, than any of my other shorts. But it was still leaner, more economical than a novel. The turnaround was a little tight for my tastes -- I tend to revise the hell out of my stories before they go out the door -- but even that was exhilarating. It forced me to step outside my comfort zone and just let words fly, so I could have more time for revising afterward.

So would I do it again? Man, I don't know. Not on my own, I'll tell you that. Too grueling, and not enough of a market. But if somebody asked? That's another matter. (Almost said "that's another story", then I realized what an obnoxious accidental pun that would've been.)

Oh, and a brief aside. I know I was all kinds of vague about who did the asking, and where this story's ending up. Those who've been reading my blog a while have probably noticed I've done the same with every story request I've ever blogged about. There's a reason for that, and it ain't 'cause I'm teasing. It's because as far as I'm concerned, there's no guarantee that anything I write doesn't suck. I'm fortunate enough to have a decent track record placing stories, but one of these days, I may well cough up a dud. And the editors who contact me asking for stories are folks I consider friends. Far as I'm concerned, they're under no obligation to publish anything of mine, and I'm not going to publicly put 'em on the hook for a yea or nay.

So cross your fingers The Hitter's as fun to read as it was to write. There's something to be said for getting a new story out the door...