It’s been a while since I published anything to the Kindle. I hope to fix that soon. Let’s go over what I’ve been up to during the last year—besides dodging a global pandemic. Here it is: your independent writer/publisher update for March 28th, 2021…

Just because I haven’t published in a while doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. For me, writing is a compulsion. I do it even when I don’t have to. I think that’s how you can tell if you’re a “real” writer—you write even when no one is waiting for a finished product. 

Actually, that compulsion is only half of the “real writer” equation. I dropped the other half in without meaning to. The other half is the “finished product” bit. Real writers write because they’re compelled to, and they finish what they write.

For as long as I can remember, the finished product bit has tripped me up. If I were, one day soon, told I had Attention Deficit Disorder, I wouldn’t be surprised. I get into a project and something bright and shiny distracts me. Often, the bright and shiny thing is just another, sexier project. I have notebooks and hard drives full of partly completed work.

I’m not telling you this to make excuses or garner sympathy. Like the man said, “It is what it is.” If anything, I’m addressing the preceding paragraph to those of you with similar difficulties. I’m distractible yet, against all reason, I’ve written eight novels to date. If I can do it, literally any of you can too. Maybe we’ll talk more about this. Right now, let’s talk about where I’m at.

Where I’m at revolves around a theme. Theme, AKA the idea at the heart of a story or the story’s central philosophical argument, is a concept I embrace—to a point. Your story probably ought to be about something. For instance, the philosophical nugget in The Great Gatsby is probably “The American Dream Can be a Trap”. Fitzgerald planted the idea then used the novel to illustrate it. But, like the American Dream, theme can be a trap. If a writer puts all of his focus on the theme then he’ll write a treatise instead of a story. People hate it when they get a treatise instead of a story.

But I digress.

Like I said, much of my recent work revolves around a particular theme. That theme is, “What do you do when the society you rely on does a one-eighty? What do you do when your friends and neighbors suddenly reject the social contract?” Not a bad theme, right? It’s provocative and there’s implied narrative. The problem is I picked the wrong genre for that theme. I spent months developing a space opera with the social contract thing in the center. After a while, the story started complaining that I was jamming the theme down its throat.

And the story was right.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well, okay, why not continue the space opera with a different theme?” That’s fair, but there were other reasons I didn’t like the space opera. Plus I really liked that theme.

Enter H.P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft, if you don’t know, was a 1920s pulp writer who up and invented a genre. A genre called “Cosmic Horror”. His stories weren’t about the standard boogeymen like vampires and werewolves. His stories were about creatures from a different dimension. These creatures, in addition to being sanity-shattering in their appearance, were horrifically indifferent to man and his institutions. Here then was a better framework for “What do you do when the society you rely on does a one-eighty? What do you do when your friends and neighbors suddenly reject the social contract?” Good ol’ H.P.’s stories are about paranoia and existential dread, and they’re in the public domain. I’d found the proper vehicle for my theme.

Huzzah.

So, I’m currently writing what is likely the first book in a series set against a backdrop of Cosmic Horror.

I’ll get into specifics in my next update.

Postscript

There’s been talk lately about what a creepy racist Lovecraft was. I’ll address this fact soon, too. Just wanted to let you know I was aware. Anyway, that’s your independent writer/publisher update for March 28th, 2021.

Photo by Stephanie Harlacher on Unsplash