Not a bad year for business. New connects, podcasts, etc. Right now, this being the festive season in the capital, my neighbourhood is quiet. And still. Just the way I like it. Recent works have been edited, polished as much as can be without damaging them, and sent to the respective publishers. Work that should be coming down the pike in 2020. All good.
What I'm thinking on is for one of those works in particular. A work which is, for me, a push to a darker place. Psychological horror, for one thing. But it's an idea I had for a while, and I'm not the type to wonder 'what if?' Ever since my earlier forays into dating, I'd never encounter a woman just to daydream about what could be. No. I'd go up to her and tell her I found her attractive, ask her out, etc. And if she said 'no'? At least I got a definite answer, and wouldn't have to keep kicking myself with some 'what if?' Even when I first wrote the original short story as part of 2017's "A Story A Week" challenge from This Is Horror, it was something I wanted to re-visit. Expand upon.
This particular work is dark material. And because it's closer to real life, it arguably goes to a darker place. I like this story, this Work X. But it's not had a welcoming reaction from all quarters. One peer who I asked to beta-read it said yes, and eventually said no - that it wasn't their kind of thing. Other peers have told me everything from they love it to they like it, but not the title. And I'm okay with that. My sister from another mister tells me the title alone is blatant, to which I tell her I'm aware of the connotations. Which is partly why Work X has that title. I assure her there's nothing gratuitous in the work. She's one of my biggest supporters and I love her to bits for that alone. Among other things, she says it may be a polarising work. That it may spark some controversy, but she also says that's not necessarily a bad thing. Mama, FYI, has expressed disdain over the title, let alone what the story's about. But that doesn't surprise me.
Mama doesn't read my work, as such: again, there's a degree of trophy value in that she gets to hold my book in her hand. But even if she reads the story, if she reads the words, she won't digest it because it doesn't interest her. In much the same way that if you read a book in a foreign language you don't speak, it's largely meaningless - since you can't digest what the book is conveying. Of course, you can read the words, but the words are conveying something more. And the publisher? It's sat with them now, so we'll see what happens. For my part, I stand by the work as a genuine story: in that I'm not pandering to any trend. It's a story I wanted to tell and as such, I've taken time - as always - to create realistic and genuine characters. Nothing exploitative in my work. Along with pushing those characters (and my work) to dark and terrifying places. If/when the work sees the light of day, feel free to judge for yourselves.
Most of the research material is in the bag for the new novel. Swung by a contact of mine - someone I used to spar with many moons ago. Informative. Him and his team gave me a lot of background for the new novel, and then some. The rest of the year will be tidying up research notes, putting the synopsis together, that kind of stuff. I'm looking forward to it. Having spent time of late editing work, it'll be good to prep for writing something new. And given that my craft has evolved, it'll be good to craft something darker.
Which may be more unsettling as a result. Hopefully, it'll engage you. Move you. Maybe even scare the shit outta you.