I am ending this year with a month of rewrites. As I explain'd in my other blog, I spent some time earlier this month completely revising and partially rewriting "The Zanies of Sorrow," a non-Lovecraftian story. Now I have completely a complete revision of the story I consider my finest, "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," after discovering that I didn't have my own personal doc of the story. I did find an old file with a bunch of stories, one of which was "Wraithwood"; but it was a "read only" file, and being utterly computer-clueless I didn't know how to save it as a single file, my computer wouldn't let me. I was, however, able to print out that version, & so I did and used that copy while typing up a new doc. As I began to type, I was dismay'd to discover how much of the writing of that original version displeas'd me, how clumsy some of the writing was; & so, of course, I began to revise as I typed, and by the end of three days' labor found that I had made quite a few alterations and revisions. I think that I have improved the story, although I didn't make any really major changes to the text.
I have a vague recollection of writing that original version of the story. I think what inspir'd it was Stan Sargent's teasing me about not being able to write stories of length. It was true that, back then, I had trouble writing anything longer than 2,000 words. So I got out my manuel (not even electric!) typewriter and told myself, "I'm gonna write a story and it's gonna be fifty pages long!" I can't recall, but I think a desire to do something with ye theme of "Pickman's Model" inspir'd the theme of weird art that is ye basis of the tale. I remember wanting to use the story to pay a kind of homage to some of my favorite paintings. So I started writing, with just a vague story idea in my head but no actual outline jotted down. By the time I typed "--finis--", I had a manuscript of fifty pages exactly!
I had a hunch that it was a rather good story, compar'd to moft of ye stuff I had written; and so I excitedly sent it and another new story to S. T. Joshi. He was utterly unimpress'd. "These two new stories just won't do," his letter inform'd me.
I think S. T. was just preparing to edit the first volume of BLACK WINGS, but I hadn't written my story with that anthology in mind. I cannot now remember what he didn't like about the story, although he express'd confusion about the Pickman connection and what it added to the plot. I decided that I wou'd save my new story and use it as one of the original unpublish'd yarns in a new collection. Some time later, I got a letter from S. T. in which he listed the final selection of accepted stories for Black Wings--and there it was, in ye list: "Inhabitants of Wraithwood". A pleasant surprise--I really did want to be included in S. T.'s anthology.
My recent typing up ye tale led me to reconsider the Pickman allusions--were they really necessary to ye story? Could it exist just fine without the Lovecraft connection? Perhaps; but as I typed up ye new revision, I felt in my gut that that aspect of the story did indeed belong and added to ye overall mood and substance of ye text. So it stay'd.
Now I hope to spend ye next few weeks actually writing new stuff!