I started a post about writing but then realized that it was really meandering and went nowhere of any consequence. The dog’s sitting on the couch and we’re watching a vocal reality show I’m partially invested in. Of course I just watched Supernatural and well, the boys… nom.
There was originally an intent to discuss writing and process. Everyone has a different way they write. I personally hate writing. I loathe it. It never fucking matches the emotions in my head and the styles are different from series to series which is nice to play with but then I get all…. Hey, is this going to fuck up a reader who is looking for that hard-boiled-ish voice of Cole? They’re not going to find that in Sinner’s Gin. It’s a different flavour. Is that wise?
Then of course it all boils down to… fuck it.
I have an urban fantasy written called Black Dog Blues. It was sent out and well, received good notes about the writing but the one thing that everyone came back to was… the main character was bisexual and this was going to be a problem. Okay, some people probably just hated it but there was a general consensus that it wasn’t… mainstream.
One agent told me that it would sell if Kai, the main character, was changed to female.
I thought about it. I did. Long and hard.
But, in the end… I felt like Kai’s penis should stay where it is. Between his legs.
Will I pitch Kai out again? Yes, maybe when the publishing houses are feeling more risky. Or perhaps it just sucks. But I love the character. I do. He sticks with me. And I don’t want to let him go. I don’t want to inject a vagina into him just to sell him.
I didn’t think that because I’m an artiste…or that I’m such a good writer that I’ll refuse to compromise the character and writing.
When you’re a writer, you’re a whore. That’s pretty much what it comes down to. We are whores and pimps. We dress up these characters and send them out to walk the streets to earn their keep. Sometimes you’ve got to change what they are wearing and where they go. It’s what the business end of writing is.
But what it all comes down to is when to say “Is this a good choice?”
I’ve sliced apart chapters and erased tens of thousands of words because they weren’t good enough. Bottom line: It has to be good enough.
Is Kai good enough? Dunno but he FEELS good. *cues James Brown* I didn’t want him to be dressed differently, or wear different clothes or speak differently. He just feels good where he is. Do I want to sell him? Yeah, I do. But it’s okay if I don’t. Because I LIKE his world and his character.
Sometimes, that’s enough. You know?
So, here’s a different project. The opening few pages of Black Dog Blues as written by Reece Notley. *bows out*
Black Dog Blues
It wasn’t a great day to be me.
The nick below the tip in my right ear itched and when I scratched at it, the itch fled, traveling down my stomach and into my crotch. I willed it to go away and after annoying me for a few seconds, it disappeared. I was cold, stinking of blood from the three elfin shadow dogs I’d already killed and grumpy because there was still a live one out there I had to hunt down.
I smelled the last dog before I saw it. Nothing can mask the stench of an unsidhe cur. They reeked like a week old herring rolled in the juices of a bloated corpse left out in the sun. I checked the thunder-grey sky for rain and sniffed for any water. Wet black dog could make a dead man vomit and the smell would soak through the metal bed of my truck.
“Come to Kai, baby,” I snuck a peek at the thing, peering around the tree I’d hidden behind. “I need some groceries.”
The black dog looked like a mange-infested mastiff who’d fallen into an iguana’s gene pool and was about twice the girth of the others I’d already taken down. It appeared male but gender didn’t matter if a dog got a lot of meat to eat and this one looked like it ate well. Its long lizard tail doubled as a weed-whacker when it stomped through the brush, taking out huge arcs of grass with each step and its belly dragged on the ground; a fat happy lizard-dog bastard out for an afternoon snack.
Even thought it was close to me, its forehead and short snout wove in and out of view behind boulders along the hillside’s slope, keeping me from a kill-shot. The coarse ebony fur on its body ran to thick wrinkled grey flesh on its legs, long claws growing out of its reptilian paws. One of its smaller back horns was broken, probably from a mating fight, but from what I could see as it opened its maw to scent the air on its tongue, all of its finger-length teeth were intact.
Good thing because I wouldn’t want to be only half-chewed when the damned thing ate me alive.
I pulled up my shotgun, cracking it open one last time to check its slugs. With the hound coming around the trees, I would have to wait for a clear shot. Dempsey liked a knife or a bow. Stalker should hunt like a man, he grumbled in my head. I liked having a sawed off shotgun or a pair of Glocks that I could reload.
“Have to shoot the damn thing five times with a bow when a damned slug can do it in one or two.” When it came down to it, I’d rather be alive with gunpowder on my skin than having my picture hanging up on the Post’s tribute wall to the manly Stalkers who died taking something down. “Crossbows are shit.”
“God that thing stinks,” I muttered to myself, my eyes watering from the smell. Resisting the urge to check my ammo again, I waited as the wind shifted and I sent a brief thanks to the slaughtered god when my nose cleared of black dog.
It was almost in full view and the change in wind direction helped me more than it. Its broad chest vibrated as it laid its head back and howled, the piercing keen of its eerie song echoing across the area. It was calling for the others in its pack. If I had any luck, it would soon be joining their dead bodies in the back of my truck.
The thing was going to be a bitch to drag down to the road. Bounty laws said I couldn’t leave the body behind, mostly to protect wildlife from eating a black dog’s acidic meat so I’d have to drag out every pound of its dead body to the truck after I killed it. Carry out what you kill, Dempsey beat into me.
“Or find some stupid elfin kid to do it for you.” I snorted.
The hound didn’t have to worry about dragging me off the mountain. If it got me, it would eat me on the spot, probably spitting out the zipper of my jeans and my earring when it was done. With luck, I’d get the chance to pee myself first because my bladder began complaining loudly and the itch returned to my bits.
It turned and a flicker of a red eye gleamed in the black of its face. Holding its head lower than its massive shoulders, it skulked across the ground, hitting on my scent. I couldn’t hide from its nose. Damned things could track prey over anything.
The dog hit on my trail, growling as it moved its head back and forth to scent. I held my breath, letting the scent-trail draw it closer. It crept quickly over the forest floor, making a slithering sound through the leaves. If it wouldn’t have dropped the dog on me, I would have laughed. The thing was nearly as large as a tik-tik cab. The only way it could hide was if a lorry dropped down in front of it.
With its sloping body tucked down, the black dog stilled, its wide nostrils sniffed at the air. A curl of its tongue lapped around its brush of teeth, long strands of milky saliva roping down to cover a clutch of weeds. The leaves shriveled and burned when the hound’s spit struck, tiny wisps of smoke rising around the black dog’s head as the acid ate through the greens. The wind shifted again and caught my scent, carrying it to the dog. It turned, found me staring at it and leapt straight for me.
Singlish is really an ugly language. It has its toes in many lingual puddles from old Britain to Cantonese with hot dashes of wasabi Japanese but there were times when only the ugly gutter back street Nippon would do.
This was definitely one of those times.
“Kuso!” I brought the shotgun down as the black dog barreled towards my hiding spot. The wind shift carried something of me on it and the creature found me as easily as if I’d jumped out into the open and waved my arms around.
The hound smelled the death of its pack on me and it was pissed.
My first blast hit it between the eyes, jerking its head around. I took the recoil, easier for me than a human but the gun bead shook and I had to re-sight. For a long scary moment, I thought the shot went wild. The black dog kept coming, its ear flaps laid back and its mouth opened wide enough to pop my head off with a single bite but a trail of black gore spit up behind its head. It was hit but not enough to bring it down.
Bringing the shotgun back around, I let loose the second round, aiming for one of its eyes. Its head jerked back again and its cheek shattered, the eye popping into a wet mess but the damned thing kept coming. I dropped the gun and grabbed for the Glock lying in the grass next to me as the black dog’s paws dug into the ground in front of me.
It went over me just as my hand closed on the grip. Twisting to get another shot off, I ate dirt when the black dog’s weight shoved me into the ground. It hit hard and I choked on my wind, coughing to pull enough air into my chest to inflate my lungs. Flipping over, I couldn’t breathe and at nearly five hundred pounds and as fragrant as whale puke, the hound covered my legs and torso, pinning me against a bed of pine needles.
My brain told me the thing was dead but my mind wasn’t the one that needed convincing. The dog’s mouth snapped and tore at the air near my head and shoulders as its body twitched frantically. Lines of foam polluted its pink-rimmed lips, acidic ropes of spit that burnt my skin and I placed the barrel against the creature’s flat skull and pulled the trigger.
Bone chips stung my cheek and I tasted powder before I could get my mouth closed. The blast blossomed out the dog’s head and its skull spat out furred chunks and scaly skin. I fought to breathe as its spasms slowed, its legs stiffening out behind its prone body. Slowly, the light in its eyes dimmed, turning the vivid red lights to a dull grey. It twitched once more then went still, as dead as the rocks digging into my back.
“About time you died, damned thing.” Sighing with relief, I tried squirming out but the dog’s weight settled hard on my shins, trapping me against the forest floor.
Leaning back into a bed of dried pine needles, I stared up at the sky and sighed. “Ah, fuck me.”