I’ve been promising a short story followup to Library at Mount Char pretty much since the book got published. Every so often someone will politely ask me where it is. This is a reasonable question. It came up during a reddit AMA earlier this week. I love Halloween and the story is kind of a Halloween-y so, in what turned out to be an excess of zeal, I promised to have it ready by 10/31/2015.
It turns out that’s not going to happen. But I should have it ready in a couple days.
If you care, here’s what happened: I took a couple weeks back in August (-ish?) to write the thing. I ended up with 11,000 words, which is a good chunk of text. The problem was, it wasn’t great—honestly, it wasn’t even very good–and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. So I figured I’d let it sit for a week or so. Fast-forward to October 28 (last Wednesday). By that time I did indeed have an idea how to fix it, and I spent a couple of days doing surgery. I ended up pretty satisfied. I thought it was a subtle, carefully observed piece about emotional growth, with a nice understated ending that was sure to wring a tear from the eye of even the most jaded reader. I showed it to my wife (Heather) for the first time on, I think, Wednesday. At that point, the troubles began.
Heather thought it was “boring as hell.” She asked “what is the point of this crap, exactly?” and “are you trying to piss people off?”
A word here about Heather’s editorial skills—they are formidable. I’ve mentioned in a couple of interviews that the first draft of The Library at Mount Char had a much different ending. When I wrote it, I thought it was pretty good. Heather rolled up the last hundred pages and hit me with it. This led more or less directly to a complete rewrite, and the ending of the book as that you guys have seen. I went back and looked over the original ending the other day, and she’s right. It was wrong for the book. She’d been my first reader for other stuff before that, and she’s yet to steer me wrong. I’ve learned to trust her advice. Also, God love her, she’s figured out that I do not respond well to subtlety. I’m one of those people who, if you say something like “this is good, but ___” I don’t hear anything after the but.
The upshot is that I did a fairly major rewrite of the story on Thursday and Friday morning. I showed it to her on Friday afternoon. I’m pleased to report that as of Friday evening, the verdict has been improved to “it’s not godawful anymore, now it’s just boring. No one wants to read this crap.”
In the grand scheme of things, that’s relatively minor. We’ve discussed the remaining issue, and I’m fairly sure I know how to address it. It’s about a 1500 word addition, and some tinkering with the ending that’s there now. I hope to get it ready tomorrow.
Sorry guys. I really wanted to give everyone a Halloween present, but I think it’s better to be even yet later still than turn in something substandard.