September 22nd, 2012

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A Pseudonym’s Story (Part 3)
Alive, Again

Time passed. Trista and I moved to Texas. The work I was producing (under my own name and one other pseudonym) was actually starting to move. I was exploring non-fiction and writing webcopy and content. By the end of 2010, I had all but phased out the C. C. Blake name, when Vampires 2 crawled out of its internet grave.

The magazine's owner/editor, a guy named Carlos Dunn, dropped me an email out of the blue. After a couple of years, he said, he had managed to reclaim his internet properties. The market was coming back as a website, he said, no more physical copies or printing costs to hold him back. Would I send them a new story? They were happy to reprint "Cave and the Vamp", and were hoping for more in the same, ahem, vein.

"C&tV" ended on an open note. Cave meets Vamp girl, they fall in love while tracking down a maniac serial killer, and in the end, Cave loses Vamp and chases her around the world. It was the open ended device that played well for series work. When I thought about this, I decided Cave could go on adventures looking for his love. At every port of call, he could always find trouble. It could go on for years! The end to that particular arc had already been written and published in 2006 or 2007,a ditty called “Hell on Earth” . . . I knew how it ended, but I otherwise had an open field! There was plenty of fertile ground to play in. Sort of like the Star Wars novels/roleplaying game adventures that take place during the years between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back . . . I could fill it in as I pleased!

Thanks to late night idea-bouncing sessions over bottles of wine with Trista, I turned out two more vampire-themed stories: "Cave's Dark Mistress" and "Cave's Deadly Beauties". The stories came quick, but I did not send them to Glenn as fast as I once had because he had added a new twist: he wanted to offer audio versions as well as readable webcopy. Well, I've long love audiobooks and old radio dramas. I had hoped to crack the audiobook market, and this seemed like the opportunity. I'd write a story. Edit it. Record myself reading it. Edit the hell out of those audio versions. Send in both at the same time. It was entertaining enough.

Then, the V2 owner/editor Carlos Dunn decided to try something different. He wanted to write a story that included one of my characters (Rhianne, the vamp in jeopardy from "Cave and the Vamp") and ended with Cave getting a phone call. I could write part two to this. I was flattered, and I was hesitant. These people were mine. I didn't want to share them. As a lark, I agreed. The story was eventually written and published on the Vampires2 site. I read it (despite numerous typos), grimaced as I wondered what I had gotten myself into, and then pondered writing the next part.

During this "resurgence", Dunn tried to advertise his material by making videos. Amateur things aimed as advertisements for Youtube. He was big into story trailers. Then, he started attempts to break the fourth wall, having a relative play the character of Rhianne as though she were real. I was disturbed that my intellectual property had suddenly been adopted as the mascot for the site. Flattered, yes. Something I had created had really moved someone else! What writer does not want to hear that? I bit my tongue, and waited to see how it would go . . .

Meanwhile, I juggled ideas for the sequel story. I soon realized it was not a sequel story I was working on at all. Dunn's piece had been little more than an extended scene. Not a lot of actual action or drama. Not a story, per se, but an introduction to two characters and then wham, a need for help. It was setup.

My first draft came while Trista and I were entertaining a pair of visiting writer friends. One evening, we decided we needed to get some work done. The four of us sat around our kitchen table with computers plugging away at various projects. I cranked out a half draft before I got hit with a "What the hell am I doing?" moment. I wasn't invested in the style anymore. I wasn't interested in the Cave character, anymore.

I'm sure many writers get these doubts. I've long had them. In fact, the doubts seem to show up the worst (for me, anyway) when I've got a sure thing. I sent a pitch about an article, and the editor is interested? The writing then becomes a painful grind as I asked myself "Why should I bother?" When I was a younger writer, my work was too often short circuited by my own brain. The key to finishing what you start is to push through any and all doubts until the damned thing is done. It's not easy to avoid getting mired, and once stuck it's not easy to get going again.

Sitting and staring at the computer screen, I decided then and there I would finish this story. Then, I would be done with Cave. I had better avenues for my time. And while the $50 a pop was welcome, I needed to get my head unstuck. I finished the story a week later. Dunn liked it. He got bigger ideas. Why stop at a story and sequel? Why not make it something far more special? Why not make it a serial. $50 installments. An eBook at the end with shared royalties. It would be perfect! What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, he hit me up with this when I was feeling high on life. I should have stuck to my earlier decision to just phase out the Blake name. I told myself this even while I stupidly said What The Hell Let's Try This Thing.

Then, I was once again back in the low ball, low stakes arena.

(To Be Concluded)

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