Earlier this week, I was talking with my friend Amy Berg, who is one hell of a writer (she's an Executive Producer on Eureka, and created Cha0s when she wrote for Leverage). Amy's been encouraging me to write fiction for years, even when I regularly responded with statements like "I can't" or "I don't know how" or "I've tried and I suck at it" or "They're all going to laugh at me!"
She always told me that I would surprise myself if I just got out of my own way and wrote stories, so at the end of last year, I started Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year to see if she was right.
It was terrifying at first, because I really believed all those things I told her (especially the part about everyone laughing at me), but the whole point of Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year was to stop being afraid and worrying about things never being good enough. The goal wasn't to be perfect, I kept reminding myself, the goal was to be creative.
I guess it worked, because after a couple weeks of Project Do Something Creative Every Day for the Rest of the Year, I found the courage to release The Day After and Other Stories, which was surprisingly well received and sold way more than I ever expected it would, considering its price and length.
When we talked, I mentioned all of this to her. Before I even realized I was saying it, I heard the words, "I don't feel like a fraud anymore when I write fiction."
"That's good!" She said with a laugh. We talked for a few more minutes and when I hung up the phone, those words still hung in the air around me.
"I don't feel like a fraud anymore when I write fiction."
I couldn't believe I actually said it, and that I really believe it. See, I know I'm not the greatest fiction writer in the world, and I have a long way to go before I feel as comfortable writing fiction as I do writing non-fiction. But I have a great time when I make up and write stories, and so far my incredibly unscientific and minuscule sample indicates that people enjoy reading them, too.
So I've been able to keep on doing it, working on various projects a little bit every day, slowly pushing them toward their terrifying release. One of those projects, currently titled "Hunters (this really needs a better title)", is nearly finished. I think Andrew and I have it at a place where I'll be ready to let it go pretty soon, and instead of the stomach-turning fear and anxiety I felt with The Day After and Other Stories, I'm actually excited to publish it.
Anyway, here's a little preview:
Pyke chased the girl down a street still wet with the afternoon’s rainfall. A thin sliver of moon was glowing behind the thinning clouds, but it wasn’t bright enough to pierce the darkness between the few street lamps that still worked. The girl was fast. He had to stay close, or she’d escape.
Pyke had let the girl put about 500 feet between them when she ran through a bright pool of light and was swallowed by darkness. When she didn’t reappear, Pyke knew he had her, for there was only one place she could have gone. He followed her through a once-ornate gateway into the old city, where the colony had been founded a century before.
Her footfalls echoed off rows of empty windows down narrow streets that seemed to turn back on themselves, an ancient trick intended to confuse invaders. When the Gan arrived, they solved this puzzle by simply bombarding most of the buildings and walls from low orbit until there weren’t many places left to hide. Hunters like Pyke—a second-generation Goa colonist who’d grown up in the old city—knew every twist, every turn, every blind alley and every hidden basement.
It wasn’t the first time Pyke had pushed a rebel into the avenues. In the six months he’d been working for the Gan, he’d let dozens of terrified patriots think they were making their escape into the old city’s maze-like streets, only to trap them in one of its countless dead ends, where he’d have a little fun before turning them over to his masters.
He heard a splash just down the block, followed by a yelp. She must have fallen in a puddle, Pyke thought. Shallow craters were everywhere in these streets; filled with water, they made quite effective traps. Pyke slowed to a jog and grinned. It was only a matter of time now.
Oh Pyke, you're a bad, bad man.
The whole thing is about 3000 words, so I'm probably going to try an experiment with it, and make ePub and PDF versions that will cost around a dollar at my Lulu store. I think I'll eventually put it here or my virtual bookshelf for free, too. If I sell enough to make that a viable business model, I'll keep doing that in the future. (Or not. I reserve the right to change my mind and then change it back again.)