Thursday, December 30, 2021

The ones I'll never publish


December 30, 2021

When I began my writing journey, I wrote what was once called science fiction. Somewhere along the line people started calling it "space operas" or speculative fiction. 

Speculative? Uh-huh. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry, because now we ALL have individual palm-sized communicators. 

The first science fiction book I read was Moon of Three Rings by the late, great Andre Norton. I was maybe nine or ten. Suffice it to say very young. That book, about a spacefarer who comes to inhabit the body of the barsk has remained clear in my mind throughout the decades. Even over half a century after it was written, Moon of Three Rings is an incredibly rich and nuanced story. I scrounged the used book store to find the earliest paperback edition I could locate and it has a place of honor on my bookshelf. 

Back in the late nineties, I had an idea for a trilogy. I built the universe and set the main characters - an heir, his half-brother, and his brother-in-law. They formed a Triad which gave them social and political influence and protection. I lived and breathed that universe for over a year until one day I began to write it out. Somewhere along the line, I realized it was a story I didn't want to share. Probably after I submitted it in an RWA contest and got an Honorable Mention. It's the only time I ever subbed in an RWA contest so I think I did pretty good. 

Bits and pieces of it have worked their way into various stories, albeit altered to fit different characters, but the whole is mine. 

In today's publishing world, if I cleaned up the manuscripts and published them, I'd be giving them away for free. The pirates would see to that and I won't allow them to have at it. 

The world turns. People change. I've changed. I used to think I would write books for the rest of my life, or at least as long as my fingers worked and the electricity stayed on. Now I don't know. 

The prevailing wisdom remains that readers like a good series. I've done them: The Rea Cheveyo Chronicles, the Sundown saga, Amethyst Cove, Centerville Muscle, Southern Cross, The Men of Marionville. Some of those series could continue for a long time, but unless I change my mind, they won't. It's selfish, but what happens on Ian & Rick's honeymoon is something I'll keep to myself. Does Sundown save his species? Of course, but what he and Fallon discover along the way, in spite of the clues I left, will never be told. Yes, there are many more stories to be told. 

Will I truly never publish them? I don't know. I'll have to change again, and change my mind, to write them. I've reinvented myself before and so I may again.

It is my hope that one day soon I'll be rested enough to pick up the craft again. I've been tested too often these past few years and yes, something within me has threatened to break. I've got to hide it away to protect it until it can spark back to life. 

Sound dramatic? Certainly, but it's what we writers do. We paint a dramatic picture with our words, and when people do nothing but steal our words, we, or at least me, stop writing them down. 

It may not be the best, first choice, but there it is. At least for a time.


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