I started writing what was then called Autumn at the Beach, on — it says here — Sunday, May 10, 2020. In March, I’d had a mastectomy, and had started radiation therapy on May 7. I was worn out, scared, and restless.
So, I decided to write a book.
As a concept, this wasn’t a bad one. It would give me something to focus my mind; it would keep me out of Steve’s hair while he was writing the next Liaden book; and it would be — normal. Sitting in front of a computer for hours a day, typing, is what I do.
I chose to return to Archers Beach not only because the setting is comfortable, but also because — as I see in the clarity of hindsight — I wasn’t in any shape to carry the complexity that is a Liaden book, with all of its connections and history, in my head.
So, Archers Beach it was, and Cael the Wolf my chosen subject. Cael had only just gotten a job as the animal control officer at the end of the third published Archers Beach novel, Carousel Seas, and I was interested to see how that was going to play out.
My stance when working on a book is that the book comes first, and everything else is secondary. This has some limits, of course — bills still need to be paid on time; meals need to be eaten; dishes need to be done; radiation still needs to happen. But the Important Thing is the book. It takes center stage, and gives your brain something to chew on that isn’t Just Worry. As it turned out, this was a very useful mindset.
Now, I wasn’t writing very quickly, or anything like every day. But I was writing; I accumulated words, and eventually pages, so I could see forward motion.
Around the end of September, it was brought to my attention that we had a story commissioned for Derelict, an all-new short story collection from Zombies Need Brains. Since Steve was working on Fair Trade, it was my part — per our long-running arrangements — to write the story. I therefore put the novel aside to focus on it.
It was hard. I had no idea what I was doing. I flailed. I swore. I wrote a dozen starts, all wrong. And, finally, I wrote “Standing Orders,” and sent it in, just making the December deadline.
When I next looked back in on Autumn at the Beach — I’d lost the thread, and the story Just. Sat. There. I did a little pushing and shoving, but it didn’t so much as twitch an ear. So, I put it away, thinking it — or I — just needed a rest, and I’d come back to it.
. . . but I never did. January 15, 2021 was the last time I opened the file.
It now being August 15, 2023, the smart money says that I’m never going to finish writing the book now known as Wolf in the Wind; in fact, it is officially a Splinter.
Statistics: Wolf in the Wind is just about 10,500 words long — 41 manuscript pages — in all its splintered glory. There are five chapters, which I’ll be posting as I can do so, around doing other needful tasks, but no less frequently than once a week. We will be accepting donations, for those who are moved to hit the button at the bottom of each chapter. Eventually, all five chapters will be included in Splinter Universe Presents! uh, Volume Two, that will be.
And that’s the story of the story.
Here’s the link to Chapter One of Wolf in the Wind.
August 15, 2023