How about that? I started writing the journal entry at the start of this month, and now I'll finish it nearing the end of the month. Sat here listening to Shooter Jennings' bluesy-rock, 'All Of This Could Have Been Yours.' To be fair, all I wrote on this journal entry at the start of the month was the title.
Before I get into the meat of it, I'll thank everyone for their patience. Everyone from my peers to my publishers. I know peers, friends and my audience have been keen to see what comes next. And believe me, there's work to come. From the publisher point of view, in particular, I thank them for their patience, and I can't thank them enough. We don't necessarily agree on everything, but that's okay. Hell, I prefer it. Your ideas are different to mine? Let's hash 'em out. Brings out the best in me and my work. Keeps me sharp.
The first short story I wrote was a 100-word story called On Reflection. Which I sold for 'exposure.' No money: just a chance to get my name out there. Boosted my confidence. Got me used to dealing with publishers. As I've said before (to Kelly in particular), there are levels of game. And as such, I evolved:
to where I'd written my first story
to where I'd edited my first story (including input from beta readers)
to where I'd submitted my first story
to where (instead of previous rejections), I'd had a story submission accepted
to where I'd signed a contract for that story
The second story I'd sold was one called I Wouldn't Let You Die. Notable, because this is the last story I sold for 'exposure'. Everything else since then has been paid, with a handful going to anthologies for a given charity/cause. So, yeah, game has evolved.
But evolution isn't static. Not here, at least. And I can give examples in grander terms of the genre. Good old days - when I was small and Afro'd - of histrionics and poor editing in screen entertainment, along with relatively ropey effects. I'm thinking of Ash punching a possessed Linda in The Evil Dead. Nancy's mom dragged back through the window at the end of A Nightmare On Elm Street. The basketball scene in Deadly Friend. And countless other examples (although I'll cite the main transformation from An American Werewolf In London as an inspired exception). But effects have evolved. And even though I don't watch horror anymore (the irony! the irony is coming!), I've seen evolution. Michonne cutting down walkers in The Walking Dead. Buffy Summers dusting vampires aplenty in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Dexter Morgan gives in to his dark passenger, in a quiet room of clingfilm, blades, and bound victim. This last example is key. Because not only do the effects evolve, but so do the narratives. Heroes are now more likely to have a degree of villainy about them. If anything, this is what entertains us more. Shows the Dexter, Breaking Bad, et al. Not just dark narratives, but darker narratives. There's evolution.
And, unfortunately, horror can befall all of us, any of us. Even if we hope it doesn't.
So changes our genre. Horror/dark fiction. I see my peers evolve. Work written. Work sold. Work adapted. Work rewarded - awarded. More diversity and inclusion in the genre (which is not to say there isn't discrimination).
As for me?
Some years back, I took a cue from the likes of the now-defunct DarkFuse magazine. In addition to seeing short stories from an author, they wanted to see what that author's website would be like. The online presence. My thinking? Start selling short stories to build up an accessible body of work. That achieved, game evolved into longer works of fiction - especially since as an author and reader, I prefer longer works. More immersive. While the first stories I wrote with professional intent were novels, I hung back from that for a while, honing my craft writing short stories. That doesn't mean that the evolution stops now. Or else, how is it evolution? My first novella scared me. One of my later stories disturbed me. Imagine that. Evolution.
Which means what?
Evolution in the game: everything from what I write to how I write, along with how I manage the writing. New narratives; darker narratives, coming down the pike. But don't take my word for it. In addition to telling a good story, I want to tell an honest story - nothing gratuitous, nothing for shock value. That, I don't see changing any time soon. So, as always, I humbly hope the work will entertain you, move you. Maybe even scare the shit outta you.