Valentine’s day has come and gone again. My wife and I have an agreement: no celebration or gifts on Valentine’s day, a manufactured holiday designed merely to get consumers to spend money. We love each other every day, not just on holidays. So of course she bought me a brilliant leather case to hold pens, and I bought her a paper flower made by a crafts person from a damaged book. That’s just how we roll. Don’t make these holidays about what they tell you they should be, make them what is best for you and the person you love.

On the topic of love, though, I began a new story. I think I’ve got a brilliant title for it, too. Love in the Time of Cadavers: an Examination of the Scrapbook of Golovakha Arkadiy Ruslanovich Detailing the Remarkable Romance of Mr. Samuel H. Delacourt and Mrs. Lenora Elizabeth Kildare. Yes, it’s a long title, but I’m going for a Victorian vibe in this work of fantasy, which is an epistolary story based on the love letters of the aforementioned Mr. Delacourt, a mortician and necromancer, and Mrs. Kildare, a supply store owner and healer. Golovakha is Gregor, the assistant to Mr. Delacourt who keeps a scrap book of their love letters and other miscellany.

“There’s a fine line between necromancy and necrophilia.” – Skeleton in the Closet.

Initially I was going to do just the letters. But I realized that wouldn’t give me quite a broad enough view of how things develop in the relationship, and there was room for something more interesting. So Gregor collects advertisements, news articles, scraps of paper with notes on them, all of which serve to highlight and punctuate parts of the story. It’s been really fun digging through old Victorian newspapers and letter archives to get a feel for the era and try to recreate some of the stuff Gregor would have kept.

However, that does lead me to a problem with this story: how the hell do I sell this? It would be a tough job for any magazine to convert the various items Gregor collects into a form that works in print without having to resort to graphics. Most magazines aren’t going to do that. I’m going to play with font choices and such to see if that works, and I’m detailing each entry with brackets to call out what it is (ie, [Newspaper clipping] for example), but it’s still a tough sell. Not to mention epistolary stories, while popular, don’t seem to pop up much in short fiction. At least not the short fiction I’ve been reading in recent years.

However, I’m firmly of the line that you write what you love. When you find something that pleases you, go into it with your heart set on completing it. Worry about selling it later. At the very least, you will have written something that you enjoy, and will have had an opportunity to continue improving your skills. Not finding a market is not the end of the story, either. You can always save it and post it to your own website, or share it on one of the free sites. And if you ever become hugely popular, you can add it to the collection of short fiction your agent and publisher will surely want to promote for you (hey, a man’s gotta dream). I’ve already decided if this (growing longish) story doesn’t sell, I’ll put it up on my website with multimedia in some way to make it look cool, maybe even be a little interactive. Not sure how much I can accomplish on that, but we’ll see. It’s been ages since I’ve played with my Flash programming skills, but this would be perfect for that (although everyone is moving away from Flash these days, so probably not the best choice).

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I do love writing this story. I’ve got a basic idea of where it goes and how it ends, but I’m mostly bashing it together as I move along. There’s a balance between writing the letters and finding the items that Gregor includes between them. I’ve added some scraps of notes that are reputedly (at least according to Gregor’s notations) from “the Skeleton in the closet”, a literal skeleton Mr. Delacourt keeps in his closet that pronounces things with a gloomy wisdom.

Write what you love, folks. And buy your significant other things they will love, even if they’re not in keeping with the traditions of the date in question. Even if there is no reason at all. What better reason to show someone you love them than because you love them?

Stuff like this:

My wife, she is awesome.

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