I had a good weekend for writing, finding the time to work out a new short piece, First Souls, (that I will be posting within the next day), and getting some good solid editing on some other work. Runner B stopped mid stride in the last couple weeks, as I’ve found little time to work on it from home. I’m currently on paternity leave, so my time to write is dictated by the nap schedule of a capricious id that cares little for quiet, uninterrupted working time.
First Souls was something that bubbled up between running and a bout of what I hope was food poisoning last week, and it needed to get on the page. If I didn’t give it a shot at life, it would have eaten away at me while I tried to work on Runner B. I will return to Runner B, but for some reason it’s proving more challenging than I’d thought.
I’m trying to take writing much more seriously now, scheduling out the tasks I need to address, including research of markets, agents, and publishers. Finishing Runner B is next on my task list, followed by final drafts and submissions of two other pieces. No more rejections or acceptance letters have come back in, and I’m about to send queries to some of the more tardy markets to see if I can goose them into a response, if only to free up the pieces for other submissions.
Two other things of note on the publishing front:
First, I’ll be publishing anything I sell under my real name, so if you see one of my stories under the name “Cameron Suey”, know that is indeed me, and not a plagiarist with better business sense. Likewise, you’ll probably see me posting here as “Cameron” rather than “Josef” from now on.
I started writing completely anonymously, on 4chan, with little thought of what I was doing other than having fun, which was a philosophy that served me well. When I later chose post under a name for purposes of identification, I chose a pseudonym for a couple of reasons that are now charmingly defunct. At the time, I was working for a videogame developer, and was worried about doing “outside creative work”, for no real reason in retrospect.
I was also giving developer interviews for a couple of games, some I was quite proud off, and others that were just fun to work on. It meant I got to travel to europe nearly a dozen times, and it was some of the most fun I’ve have had while still getting paid. But if you’d googled my name you’d see a few videos of me being an affable stooge for a big company. It didn’t seem to mesh very well with somber and brooding horror fiction.
Overtime, those concerns became moot, as I no longer work there or do PR. “Josef” is a much cooler sounding name than my given, but it is a character from a Kafka novel, so it’s really not a pseudonym I could continue with beyond the realm of this blog. I did think about submitting work to publishers as Joseph Kay, but that seemed a little too precious.
Second, as I continue to submit pieces, I’ve also toyed with the idea of collecting all my older pieces, and finding an illustrator to do a simple image for each story, and then self-publishing them as an ebook, likely on amazon, but also selling a DRM free epub from my website. Obviously any stories I am actively selling would not be collected, but these would be cleaner final drafts of the stories available here. I’ll likely have a lot of questions for you about this. Would you pay 3-5$ for an ebook only collection with illustrations? Is this a terrible idea? Heard any applicable success stories of short story collections doing well as an ebook? Horror stories?
It’s still something I’m toying with. I’ll likely start polling you for more concrete feedback on that and other ideas later.
I also wanted to say thank you to those of you that answered my questions about where you heard of this site, it was quite interesting. What I found is that so many of you have been reading my blog for years, and that’s completely awesome. I hope to continue earning your attention. I also found that word of mouth was the best way that people found out about me. So, to all you that have posted links, or recommended me on forums or other websites, thank you, and please feel free to keep it up. I think the best way I can build an audience is by making content that you can’t help but share. So I’ll try to keep my end of that bargain up.
I find as I start taking everything more seriously, I’m taking more notes, having more ideas, and generally finding myself with more to say. I think I’ll be posting more metaposts in the future, non-fiction discussions of the genre, books or films I’d like to recommend or wax about (and I have a great deal). All on the topic of horror and writing, of course. If you’re only interested in stories, just ignore the posts labeled “metapost”. If for some reason, you want more updates (still writing and horror focused) you should follow me on twitter.
If I start blogging about housework or tech news, you should feel free to mock me in the comments, or stop reading. Like all writers, I thrive on attention. I look at the damned site statistics every day, and obsess over every peak and valley.
Stop reading, and I’ll know. That sounds more like a threat than I meant it to be.
Here’s the first segment of First Souls.
The waitress brings us our coffee, dishwater pale murk in cracked porcelain cups. Behind the thin surgical mask, her face is unreadable, but her gaze flicks from me to my companion and back again before she leaves without a word. Mickey watches her go and then fixes me with that stare that locked us together only an hour ago. For a long moment, the silence continues, as our eyes confirm what our hearts seemed to know the instant we passed outside my office building.
“Okay, Dale,” he says, his voice hoarse and still raw, like my own, but with an accent I can’t place – perhaps a district on the other side of the city, perhaps another country. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, but I think I already know the answers.”
I pick up the coffee, finding it smells as weak and thin as it looks, and contemplate taking an exploratory swig. Around us the few lunchtime patrons of the dingy coffee shop are listlessly eating, lifting up paper masks to shovel in crumbling and greasy burgers, backsides squeaking on red vinyl seats. Those that aren’t are staring at us, at our uncovered faces.
“Okay,” I say, “Shoot.”
“You had the sick. But you didn’t report it, or go to quarantine like you were supposed to. Didn’t tell anyone.”
I nod, scared to say out loud that I’d broken the law, and willing him to lower his voice. He smiles a little, showing one blackened and rotting canine.
“Yeah. Me too, I mean, obviously. Look at us. We look like shit. But, you got better. They say 1 in 10 do, and you took a chance. No family, no close friends, you weren’t worrying about passing the sick along. Or maybe too scared to let that stop you.”
I nod again, something like excitement and night terror churning in my gut. I think I knew all this, that he and I were the same, when we saw each other this morning.
I came out of the office building, fighting the paranoia and nausea, pulling my necktie loose. I couldn’t be around my coworkers, couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Guilt from ignoring the quarantine, from lying, but something else. Something wrong, in every pair of eyes. Ever since the fever broke, and I lay awake and sweating in my bed, the sheets clinging to me, feeling remade. It’s worse than the sick ever was.
Mickey was there, just outside my office building, crouched on the edge of a planter box, sucking a cigarette down to an ashen nub, dressed in torn jeans and a stained green nylon jacket, worn thin by time. Our eyes met and we froze, held in place like two sparking nodes of an electric arc.
“We should talk,” was all he’d said, and he led me to this cafe around the corner.
“So,” he continues, “We were sick, we hid it, we got better. But it’s not really better is it? There’s something wrong.”
“Yeah…” I croak, and take another mouthful of bitter coffee. “Something’s wrong. But… I don’t think… it’s not with us.”
“No,” he smiles in agreement, the black tooth sliding into view, “Not us.”