This year’s story started out with a pitch about how I wanted to write about the Sankebetsu Bear Incident — except, y’know, in Valdemar — and because my editors are those flavors of madlad they said yes. I mostly stuck to the proposal this time.
Where I messed up was in the voice I initially picked.
Usually I don’t screw this up. Usually I know whom I am writing. Like, “it’s a Wil story, we’re writing from Wil’s POV”. But with the last two stories, I’ve had this struggle with the POV (I’m remembering now that I had a huge swath of “Belltower” written from completely different POVs before I found Reeve) and I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or fussier or what.
With this one (“Good Intentions”, unless something changes upstreams in editorial) I wrote huge parts from other perspectives and it was going nowhere. Until one morning roughly three weeks ago, when I finished out the night just randomly going off on a tangent, trying to “write out” a bit of the backstory from Khaari’s perspective, and the thing took off like a rocket, and I was like, “Oh, for f___’s sake.”
This crap happens to me all the time, and I love-hate it. My 6500 word short stories average about 15-20k words you will never see. Most of it is scrap, some of it is repetitious, some of it is nonsense I’m just breaking out of my brain so I can figure out where to go next, like knocking down rotting plaster or ripping up old carpet to get to good flooring. There’s also the stuff I write down on scraps of paper around the house: bank envelopes, printer paper, my bullet journals that are (ostensibly) for work.
I am a lifelong problem solver. I got a job into the games industry because I like throwing myself at the neverending waves of unique problems that games generate. I’ll probably be doing this until I die. I’ll be in hospice trying to optimize the pillow placement when they’re cranking up my bed to say goodbye to my grandchildren.
So this year’s story is a Khaari story. And a bear story. And a little more. I hope folks enjoy. I’m gonna go play Pentiment and clean my house now.
Oh also, please enjoy this Bayside song, which I definitely, definitely listened to a lot during the story writing.