Stuck in the Rain

It had been unusually dark across most of the Central Grasslands since he got up, but about ten minutes to the state border, drops began to splat across his windshield. First, only a few, then more and more. Soon, steady rainfall refracted his view in strings and streams that blew to the edges of the windshield as he drove on.

Gonzo’s hands began to shake again. He pulled over to avoid wrecking the van in his distraction, and he sat idle in the driver’s seat, mouth agape, eyes wide, lost in the soaked scenery and the sounds of the droplets pelting the roof of the van.

About six months ago, I started a story whose ending I didn’t know. I had a story idea, a vibe, the character I wanted to use for it, but no ending. I figured I’d guess when I got there. I thought maybe it’d have something to do with aliens–and I have the same taste in ridiculous names as Philip K. Dick, apparently–so I named it “The Little Green Men Controlling the Weather”.

Yesterday, the only thing I did was finish up that story, which I’ve since renamed “Under the Rain Shadow”, as aliens don’t really come into it, it’s a mouthful, and it’s a little gaudy regardless. (Yeah, and what’s your best working title?) I’d finally finished the climax mid last week, a balancing act between making my second main character seem gleeful about murder and impassioned about liberating both the people and the critters from government abuse. The ending was easy to write in comparison.

I think it’s kinda funny how hard it’s been for a long time for me to use the two names this story is associated with. It’s weird to address it formally. I’m used to my stories being little character pieces I show to people when I’m feeling good and then mildly regret after that. They never really have plots. You have to be invested in the characters to be invested in them. I’m always worried folks are mostly being polite about it, or that they need to see Caby’s art to get it.

This one feels different. This one goes somewhere and does something. I don’t think it necessarily needs the art (though I’ll be goddamned if I ever turn her work down for one of my little projects). It’s long. “Darkpenny” was my longest before this, at around 5,800 words, and I blew that right out of the water; “Rain Shadow” hit 8,600. Caby drew me a really fantastic cover for when I publish it on Wattpad! How’s that for official? I still can’t stop looking at it.

Under the Rain Shadow's book cover
Here’s that cover! Click it for full size.

Really, when I think about it now, I think that it’s a brilliant start–but it is only a start. I really do have to edit it and rewrite chunks of it. In my head, those early chapters when I was still wandering through the desert still read like that. Because of the piecemeal way I write (but who doesn’t?), there’s very little foreshadowing before the scenes in the military base. It’s a solid ending in need of a touchup at the beginning. I think I understand Calhoun better than I did.

When I’ll do that is probably soon. Maybe this week. I doubt it’ll take long.

I’m mostly still surprised it’s finally done after so long. Genuinely feels weird. The lads love it, and I’m still proud of it, editing done or not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t weird to see all these things I’ve had hanging over my head for the better part of a year, one by one, drop off and be properly finished, or at least finished for now, leaving behind nothing but opportunity.

I don’t think there’s been a moment where I haven’t been working on something since 2018, maybe. Really, it’s when I don’t intend to make it a gigantic project that it’s at its most fun. Not to say I don’t still have fun making things, but the gigantic to-do lists, I can do without.

2021 was a hard year for me, and 2022 has already been a lot more positive. Even though I don’t write many project update posts anymore, with the Scratchpad shutting down at the end of February, it only feels right to let its final posts be a window into the next part of my life. I think my first properly publishable story is a good place to start.

I’m going to start the next Rediscovering tonight, so expect it tomorrow. Only four more albums in the pile, including the next one. A smattering of posts revisiting some Scratchpad favorites between those, and we’re out. A long chapter in my life, like Gonzo’s, finishes.

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