Updates on some of my projects, as promised.
Let’s start with my two self-published short stories. The quick version: I’m re-publishing those stories on Wattpad, because it’s a simple way for me to share them at no cost to the reader. I’ll have at least the first story online by the start of next week, if not sooner.
Last September, I pulled “Specimen 25” and “Catch and Release” off Amazon. I don’t know if I made a good decision then, but I held to it. I took the stories offline for a few different reasons.
Keeping my work on Amazon meant that I had to charge a minimum of 99 cents, or else have my stories published on another online retailer for free and then use that to convince Amazon to make them free. I don’t appreciate the way Amazon handles this particular situation; I understand that they’re mostly in it to make money, but I am not. I wanted to put my stories out there for free, dammit, and I didn’t want to be forced to game the system.
Now, the obvious solution would have been to put the stories on Smashwords or a similar site where I could set my own price. Plenty of people publish their work for free using alternatives to Amazon. I didn’t have the desire to learn a new platform with complicated rules for formatting, and I didn’t have the money to hire someone with the experience needed to do it for me. (I haven’t completely given up on learning to do the formatting on my own, but that’s not a priority for me now.) Around that time, I started to consider using Wattpad; it looked like a much simpler way to publish, albeit with some significant differences/limitations compared to using Kindle Direct Publishing. I did what I’m so prone to doing: I procrastinated and didn’t move to re-publish the stories at the time.
Apart from the practical concerns I had about how and where my stories were distributed, I had another force pushing me to shelve the stories. I realized last year that I’d been ignoring my own misgivings about The Aldirnföld Cycle. The series stalled when I began encountering problems with plotting and maintaining the consistency of the fictional world I was building. I didn’t know what to do next, and I felt disconnected from my work. With not even a notion of when the next story in the series would be coming out, I felt like a fraud. I’d started something, and I fell victim to my fear of being unable to finish it. Why should I leave those stories hanging out there, when I couldn’t even guarantee that more would follow?
I worked hard on those short stories, put hundreds of hours into drafting them and polishing each one before sending it out into the world. But both times, even as I sat with my finger hovering over the last button between me and a published story, I was denying the feeling I had in my gut. Something didn’t feel right about those stories; I convinced myself that these feelings were a symptom of my perfectionist attitude, pushing the doubt aside.
I should have paid more attention to the doubts, because sometimes our instincts feel the truth of a situation in ways that our rational mind can’t. The idea to build off “Specimen 25” and create a series of stories from that initial seed, was never examined enough. I hadn’t planned enough to see the mistakes I was already making, because I had no real plan. I don’t regret publishing the stories when I did, because I learned a ton from it, but I would take a different approach if I had a chance to do it over.
For the immediate future, I’m re-publishing both stories in their original form, with no alterations to the text. The status of that series is sort of an unknown for now. A part of me wants to continue it, but another part knows that this might require serious revisions to the existing stories. Yet another part of me, louder than the rest, is begging me to take more time and consider my options before I commit to anything. I’m listening to that last voice, because the amount of stress that I’ve inflicted on my psyche over The Aldirnföld Cycle (and my inability to move forward with it), has been too toxic to justify working on it more at present.
My guess is, I’ll return to it in time, but not until I have a real plan for how to do so. In the meantime, I’m putting the first two stories on Wattpad and leaving them there for people to read. Whether they’ll stay on Wattpad is another question, but I plan to revisit that in about six months…
And for anyone who’s still reading this post (thanks, by the way), I have one more update. I’ve decided to dust off one of my old stories that never matured past its first draft. I’m going to rewrite and expand “Seeing Things,” my story about a man who questions his sanity after he starts seeing disturbing doppelgangers of himself in the mirror. I don’t want to say anything else about that yet, because I still have some decisions to make regarding the process of rewriting and I plan on making a separate post about it once I do. But I am actively working on a project, despite my decision to press pause on another.