Writing Update – June 2021

It’s Horror Month! A holiday I invented to encourage myself to consume more of the genre. It’s been a blast! I’ve only read horror novels and stories, only watched horror films, and dedicated my writing to the spooky and the macabre (including an essay I wrote about Why I Love Horror).

Short Stories

Since last month’s update, I’ve written five short stories, two of which show promise. As you probably guessed, they are all horror but different flavors, from cannibals to weird fiction. I tried to diversify as much as I could. When I started my habit of weekly stories, I was rusty, writing no more than 300 words a day, now I average over 1000—not as good as my heyday, but still an improvement.

I also found a potential home in an anthology for a story I wrote years ago entitled “Gastropodia.” It’s one of my favorites, and after reading it, you’ll never think about snails the same. The only problem is that I have to cut 200 words to fit the submission guidelines. The term “kill your darlings” never felt more accurate.

The Autobiography of M

You may recall that last month I was beginning edits on a novel I wrote years ago. Well … it was a bust. While it contained some of my best figurative language, my strongest characters, the narrative lacked any significant conflict in the first 100 pages. In other words, it bored the heck out of me. And if it bores its creator, it would no doubt bore the reader far more. I could fix it, but the effort doesn’t seem worth it. Not to say I’m abandoning it, just shelving it for now.

Instead I started editing another old manuscript The Autobiography of M—a splatterpunk/cosmic horror novel with a big twist. A novel inside a novel, it is centered more on the villain than the hero. One of my favorite storylines is the descent from innocence to evil and that’s the core of the Autobiography of M.

Unlike my last project, it is ripe with conflict—to the point that I’m uncomfortable. Reading it over, the novel is disturbing to say the least, but the theme of the book terrifies me, sickens me even. It sounds like a positive thing for a horror novel, but do I really want to put this energy out into the world? And attach my name to it?

It is a decision that I can’t make on my own. I’m currently on the third draft. After a draft or two more (I’m an obsessive editor, doing as many as 20 drafts per manuscript), I’ll send it off to my first beta-reader. Her reaction will determine whether I take it further.

WHAT I’M READING: Necroscope by Brian Lumley. This book has been on my shelf for two years now and I finally decided to pick it up. I’m having a love/hate relationship with it. While a fascinating story, Lumley dawdles, taking scenes that shouldn’t be more than a few pages and drawing them out over dozens (it’s over 500 pages). His penchant for description makes me want to scream, “Get on with it!” yet somehow I can’t put it down. I mentioned in my recent essay that I was not a fan of vampires, but this book freshens the trope into something truly gripping.

Horror Month is not over yet. I plan to continue it through next month. Who knows? It might become Horror Summer—or even Horror Year!


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