2010 has been quieter in terms of getting stories published than 2009, which was much more a whirlwind, with stories going out left right and centre and in the main, finding a home. My output this year has been much the same, with four stories completed, for two published credits (thought to be fair, Along Came a Spider was accepted in the dying days of last year), so one credit thus far. I’ve had two stories rejected by the editor of the Black Books anthology series, Charles Black, and my Doctor Who short story submission to Big Finish didn’t make the cut. I’m a little worried that the lack of success means I’m not improving – distressing if that turns out to be true, but a spur to work harder.
And now another finished story can be added to the pile. Widdershins is the latest story to roll off the laptop, a story which was being worked on while I put the finishing touches to The Lighthouse (still no takers for that one so far) and also working on another story, Masks (it’s getting a bit hard to keep all these straight in my head).
The idea for the story came while I was at work – I seem to remember reading an article that led me to the word, Widdershins (check Wikipedia for background on the word). From there, it wasn’t much of a stretch to think what might happen if someone actually walked counterclockwise nine times around an old, old place. Of course, they’d have to have a reason to do it, so was born Arthur Hendricks, student of history and the weird, and his antagonist, fell history student Warren.
The writing of it was fairly easy; once the elements were in place in my head, getting from A to Z was a snap. As mentioned below, I finished it twice, once too early and it was rightly rejected. The editing and re-editing involved a lot of fleshing out the details, removing a lot of clutter that added nothing to the story so it was more streamlined and a bit of rearranging. Plus adding a few swear words.
The result: a story which thankfully comes in at 3980 words – it doesn’t outstay its welcome or take forever (perhaps The Lighthouse is guilty of this) to get started. It has the virtue of a beginning, a middle and an end, and a couple of relatively engaging characters. There’s no blood or gore, relying on a quiet build up of unease before unleashing the ending on the reader. A tiny touch of myth hopefully gives it the feeling of verisimilitude (what a great word!) and I hope the writing imparts a little of the unease I was trying to generate. It’s not explosive or flowery, but I think the writing is solid. My main worry with it was tying the elements together and ensuring that the conclusion comes naturally, and not merely me itching to finish it without an adequate explanation.
The story as is is different to the version rejected a couple of times about a month ago. I sat down with it and gave it a comprehensive edit, tightening the story, making sure it made sense, and making the prose more active, immediate.
Having read and re-read it so many times, I’m glad it is out there with a potential publisher. I’m confident it will find a home, just not sure where at the moment.