I enjoyed working on the MerrySummer stories this year and it took just as much effort to revise and republish an older book as it would to create a new one. The fun of exploring a whole new world of ideas wasn't there like it is with something being discovered for the first time. However, I cut a lot of fluff from “Movies at the Beach” and tweaked “Sarcophagus” and “A Matter of Life and Hair” to make them more generalized satires instead of referring to specific works as they had in a few places. "Movies at the Beach" was really a short story concept and it shrank naturally as I fitted it for the anthology--long ago I had tried unsuccessfully to lengthen it into a standalone. Reworking also requires some creative effort, since it's impossible to remove a sentence without thinking of something to replace it and next thing you know you're rewriting. Channeling this creative effort into MerrySummer made me look forward even more to brainstorming new projects next year.
Writing is in some ways my entire life—not excluding more important concepts like religion or giving too much priority to something transient like the effect of a fictionalized world on an audience’s mind. But it is something I focus on all the time, with this desire to bring these imagined places before people’s attention until they respond to them, until they feel—“Yes, that’s real. That interests me because the concepts are just a reflection of what I see around me or what I’d like to see around me in the case of something fantastical or out-there.” So I guess I began to lament that MerrySummer hadn’t made it into a formal state quite a few years before. Because I was torn between on the one hand thinking—“I suddenly realize these stories have got to be there too,” and then thinking—“But that will delay the other things I’m working on by another year at least.”
However, the great thing about telling stories, and the rewarding thing about it, is that they exist for a reason. Every story ever written, not that anyone could possibly keep track of how many there have been, was based on an audience's need at one time. Maybe the need for that story didn’t last very long, like even less than a year or just a few months or so. But while it was there, the story existed for a reason. Some stories, of course, catch a nerve in audiences that makes them last much longer because they express a greater or longer-lasting need. So getting a perspective on all stories as a really vital form of expression, I look at MerrySummer not as yet another older story—or set of little stories in this case, but they string together-- I’ve polished up a bit while there are so many other ideas waiting. You have to think—“It meets a need right now. It has a reason to be out there.” And then I feel very proud of it.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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