Essay–This Is The End (or is it)

I have been busting my ass for many weeks trying to finish The Street. Once I figured out I had a real deadline, I pushed everything aside to work on these stories. Flames? On hold. Crusaders? On hold. Everything is on hold until I get Oscar’s tales where they need to be and ready to publish.

It’s been a hell of a journey. I didn’t really think Grouch would grow the way he has as a character. Nor did I think The Street itself would grow. It’s a universe I thought was incredibly static, but it’s really not.

Those are the wonderful things you discover when you write in a series. Just because it’s a “series” doesn’t mean you know everything that’s going to happen. I worked on the stories one at a time without having a good idea of what the next one would be. Unlike Garaaga’s Children: Ancients where there was a set destination (Library of Alexandria in 48 BCE), Oscar didn’t have a planned ending.

The Street is a true labor of love. I wrote the first story, Stuffing, as a joke and never thought I’d revisit Oscar’s world again. The listeners, however, loved it. They wanted more. People who don’t like my other stories showed up just to listen to Oscar and the crazy that was The Street.

I wrote the second tale, Deep Fried, as a Fiendmas present to the listeners, my way of saying thanks for supporting my writing and the podcast. Once again, it brought in new listeners. People just kept asking for more.

Last year, Chicken Feet dropped and it garnered even more support. It was at that point I asked my listeners the question: if I sold this thing as an audiobook and actual paperback, would they purchase it? The overwhelming response was shut up and take my money!

And here we are. Two more stories. Total length of the project? ~65k words. That’s a novel, kids. A freakin’ novel. And I didn’t need a kickstarter project to make it happen.

I’ve often joked that while I research the hell out of ancient history and write tales that do their best to interweave it and provide social commentary, I’ll be best known for writing “muppet porn.” I know that’s not fair to what The Street actually is, but it is kind of funny when something you started as a lark suddenly becomes your most beloved property.

The last story for the collection, Baked Bird, is nearly done. Well, the first draft anyway. There may be some changes and etc depending on the beta read and the edits, and I’m okay with that. I want this one to be disturbing and memorable. After all, the listeners asked for it, so they’re gonna get it.

But it’s not the final story for the series. I know that. I will wake up one morning, find the current WiP is stalled or less than interesting, and I’ll end up channeling Oscar again. He’ll start his rough monologue in my skull and I’ll just write down the words. Another tale will start and finish in no time.

I’m a little sad that fairly soon, Shadowpublications.com will package up Oscar and his stories, put them in a book, and that will be that. Once the book is published, there’s no going back. I can’t stuff more stories into it. We’re done. For now.

I’m excited to see how people are going to respond to these stories and whether or not they show up to purchase them. There will be no hardcover, kids. Just a badass looking paperback, ebook, and excellent audiobook. It’ll be worth your money. And because it’s not a hardcover, I won’t go billions into debt trying to get it printed. This is something new for me. We’ll see how it works.

When I write the last line on Baked Bird, I’ll kick back, have a cigarette and maybe a scotch, and relax for just a moment. I’ll be saying goodbye to the truly creative part of the project and begin the process of editing, rewrites, and all the little things you have to do to get a book out into the world. It also means my ass will be behind the mic, thrashing my vocal cords again, to finish the audiobook.

Finishing the last story is hardly the end of the process, but in a way, it’s closure. I started this series as a joke, my readers and listeners demanded more, and so I kept going. I’ve loved writing in Oscar’s world and I’ll come back to it at some point. But soon, I must say goodbye to The Street and get back to writing psychological thrillers and historical fantasy. I hope those next projects catch and hold your imaginations as much as The Street has. But that’s nothing I can control.

Thank you for supporting this series, folks. It’s been a lot of fun, hard work, and required plenty of brain bleach. Without you, I would never have had the guts to write it all or make it a serious part of my canon.

Now it’s time to finish Baked Bird, and get to work on the unlovely parts of the publishing process. See you on the other side.

Posted in Essays
11 comments on “Essay–This Is The End (or is it)
  1. Veronica says:

    As someone who loves the Muppets and Sesame Street, your series has been nothing short of delightfully sacrilegious. Thank you for daring to go all the way down the Street, around the corner, into the alley, and…

    … shh. I hear rubber ducks.

  2. Aleleeinn says:

    George Carlin said the best humor is universal: something we all know and understand. That is The Street as fiction. Sesame Street and the Muppets, and fragle Rock are a part of several generatins. I’m glad you treated the childhood treasure with such twisted love. That ideal world became as dark and twisted as the real world. And who better than Oscar to tell the tales. I’ve introduced friends to The Street. It is becoming a major hit, just as you have stated in you essay.
    I’m in for the final products. The Street will be part of my giving plans for this year. Yes, I do know twisted people who will enjoy it.
    But I will also be waiting for your other works. In that arena, you have brought you evil into everyday life. I cannot se or hear an Ice Cream truck without thinking of Closet Treats. And the barrier between reality and story keeps getting more fragile.
    Garaaga has been my favorite of your tales. I know how much more unexplored territory there is within that tale. Can’t wait to see where the stone god goes next.
    I enjoy your writing. Which is why I’ve read it all. Hope to read some new things soon.
    And if Oscar rears his ugly foulmouthed head again–all the better.
    Thank you for The Street, and for you other works.
    Keep on keepin’ on.
    Aleleeinn

  3. Lucie Le Blanc says:

    Only for language reasons that didn’t match my childhood memories, I didn’t enjoy Street as much as I should have. Still, it’s good writing.

    And you touched a point in this essay that I think you should elaborate on: the kickstarter thingie… I thought it was a good thing at the beginning, you know, to help my favorite authors do more… But after waiting and waiting on books that are not coming out or not up to the quality standards I was hoping for, I decided I was not going to join in those anymore. Money makes people stupid and authors are not immnune to that.

    What do you think?

    • Paul Cooley says:

      I’m all for Kickstarters to help folks pay for editing, artwork, and layout. I understand more than most how expensive those little items can be. However, if the work is done, you can get previews of it. You can sample what the author is putting out there as work BEFORE you agree to pony up. Again, that makes sense to me. The Kickstarter thing does seem to have gotten out of control. Authors can still write great books and require a little help to get where they want to go and you as a customer can still be satisfied by their work. But it seems like everyone is jumping on this wagon. That makes me uncomfortable to say the least.

      • Lucie Le Blanc says:

        I agree. When it comes to paying for specific items, or preorders of hardcovers like you do, I’m all for it. But writing a book or compiling an anthology? It’s so abstract and the time scales are ridiculously long. Some things I’ve pledged for I’m now afraid I’ll never see. Because life and bills happen…

        I’m also a bit leary about jumping into the Patreon train. I don’t make that much money (I’m a factory worker) and it feels to me as if I would be paying double for a book.

        I wanted so much to help my favorite authors get more work out, but I had to rethink that and be realistic. Abuse comes in many forms.

        My philosophy now is “Write the book, I’ll buy it.”

        • Paul Cooley says:

          One of the problems with Kickstarter and its related services is exactly that–paying for the book twice. There are some instances where that doesn’t happen, but by and large, that’s the reality.

          If there was a way for you to get the ebook for free when it’s done, that’s fine. But it should be the result of a $5.00 donation–not a $25.00 one. The rewards MUST be in line with reality. And the project sure as shit should be too.

          A writer can ask the community for a huge advance, but if a publisher isn’t willing to pay it, why should we? I don’t fault writers for trying to make some money. We SHOULD make money if we’re publishing quality content that people enjoy. But this has always seemed a little bit like hostage taking. And I don’t negotiate with kidnappers.

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