Saturday, March 21, 2015

publiez ou périssez

People I know both well and marginally are publishing. Jeff Hodges will soon release his second novella (I learned my lesson after calling such a narrative a "short story" last time—never again!); my friend Young Jin Chun has published his autobiographical novel; Peter at Conscious Entities just announced the publication of his work on philosophy of mind, and one of Jeff Hodges's acquaintances, Mark Russell (whom I might know as well, if it's the same Mark Russell that I'm thinking of) has just published a young-adult fantasy-adventure story titled Young-hee and the Pullocho—not exactly a title that's going to grab an audience unacquainted with Korea and Korean culture ("What the hell is a pullocho and why should I care?"), but it might snag people with a measure of curiosity and a sense of mystery.

I read the first few pages of Russell's novel with keen interest because I've been thinking about writing something in a very similar vein. I might buy Russell's book—which is written in a fast-paced and engaging manner, as befits a children's story. Now if it turns out that Russell has written exactly the sort of story I've been wanting to write, well... then he'll have stolen my fire, and I'll have to think twice about writing. I'm already a little distressed to see that a possible villain in the story is a dokkaebi, a Korean goblin—the very creature that I had thought of making the villain in my own story. And in just a few pages, Russell also manages to show that he's very conversant with Korean mythology, ascribing powers and properties to supernatural folkloric beings that are consistent with Korean perceptions of those beings. It was an impressive, and intimidating, first fifteen pages, but those pages have almost inspired me to make the purchase. Frustratingly, Russell's book isn't available as an e-book.

Note to Charles: Young-hee might be a book you'd be interested in as well, given its ties to folklore and its casual mix—from the get-go—of modernity and the magical (if I recall correctly, you once said you enjoyed stories that combine the mythical and the modern). Russell has obviously made an effort to make this a very specifically Korean story, which I applaud, even though I'm still worried about how marketable that title is.

All these folks, with their stories and books, are lighting a fire under my ass and forcing me to consider focusing on writing the story I have in me. If I don't write my own story, I might wither and die, so it's publish or perish for sure.


1 comment:

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the promotion, Kevin.

As for what to call these stories . . . well, we were using different labels based on definitions of "short story" and "novella" that set differing word-count minimums - 20,000 according to the sites I checked and 30,000 according to the sites you checked.

Aside from the technical issue of minimal word count, I worry that if potential readers frame the text as a short story, they might be less willing to purchase it. I know I would be less likely to buy a short story than a novella.

Maybe I'm an outlier, though . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *