A Milestone and a Change of Direction
I am approaching a milestone with this newsletter. By the end of the month, the last chapter of The Wistful and the Good will be serialized here. Which means it is time to figure out what to do next.
Also, after attempting to have both a blog and a newsletter for the last year, but actually getting most of my readers and putting most of my effort into the newsletter, I have officially shut down my blog and brought its subscribers over to the newsletter. Greetings, blog folk.
So, where do I go from here? Here’s the plan. But if you don’t like the plan, let me know. You can either comment on the post by hitting the Comment button or reply to me privately by replying to this email.
I am interested in too many things. Sensible people would say, focus your energy on one thing and you will get better results. But that is not how my mind works. It moves sideways as much as it moves forward. Most of what I find interesting to say about one subject comes from discovering its connections to another subject. If I focused on one thing, I might end up with nothing to say about it.
Most of you won’t be interested in all the things I want to write about, though, and if you get too many posts that don’t interest you, you might unsubscribe. That would be bad. To try to prevent that, I am going to have not one but three newsletters.
First, I will be maintaining this newsletter, Stories All the Way Down, with a core focus on serious popular fiction. It will also include a series that I began on my old blog called The Anomalous Now which focusses on the various ways in which the present is unlike the past, with particular, though not exclusive, reference to how the past is portrayed in historical fiction. I will put these posts in a separate section, which will make it easy to find them, and which will also allow you to opt out of receiving them without unsubscribing from the main newsletter.
Second, I will not be serializing another novel, at least not right away. It was an interesting experience to serialize The Wistful and the Good. It helped me get over the heebie-jeebies I was feeling about venturing into self-publishing. But I have come to feel that serial fiction is really a different art form and my novels, which were written to be novels, are not really well suited to it. Serials, I think, should be more episodic. If you disagree with me on this, or if you desperately want to read the next book in the series, which is St. Agnes and the Selkie, in serial form, let me know by email or in the comments. St. Agnes and the Selkie will be coming out in ebook and paperback form sometime in the fall.
Third, I have alluded here, from time to time, to the fact that I am Catholic and that I consider myself a Catholic novelist. (I have a long essay on what that means coming out in the fall in the journal Dappled Things.) However, Catholicism is not a dominant topic in my fiction, which is neither devotional nor evangelical in any way. The average reader would probably not detect the Catholicism of the author in my novels any more than they would in Tolkien’s work, for instance. It is also largely orthogonal to my thoughts on serious popular fiction. I imagine that most of my readers here will have little interest in my thoughts on Catholicism or on the role and place of literature in the life of the church. Therefore, I am starting a separate newsletter for this stuff called Why I Am Still Catholic, which will deal with these kinds of issues, among others.
Forth, on my old blog I had a series of travel posts documenting a couple of transcontinental trips that my wife and I took in 2018 and 2019. I am going to continue that series, but not on Stories All the Way Down. This is partly because I don’t suppose you will all be interested, and partly because I think it will have better discoverability on the Substack network as a separate entity. So I am starting yet another newsletter called Ordinary Eccentricity to share these posts. I will be starting the series again from the beginning, hoping to attract a new audience that would not have found them on my old blog. If you were following along on the blog, therefore, you will have to wait a little for new material to start showing up. (This will also give me a chance to get caught up on other fronts!)
Of course, I will be delighted if you subscribe to all three. There will be themes and ideas that cross over from one to another, and I will have to figure out how to handle that as I go along. But the point of separating them is to let you choose the aspects of my work that you are most interested in. Hopefully this way of breaking things up will work for you. If not, please let me know.
Fifth, I am considering adding a paid option to one or more of these newsletters. This could be simply a matter of giving you the opportunity to support my work if you wish too, or I might put certain features behind the paywall. Some ideas about what I might do in the way of member-only benefits:
Serializing St. Agnes and the Selkie, if people would be interested in getting it in that format.
Offering free ebooks of my published novels to paid subscribers.
Offering audio versions of the books chapter by chapter as I work on creating an audiobook version.
Publishing work in progress drafts of new projects for feedback and criticism.
Offering free paid subscriptions to my other newsletters if I make more than one paid.
What do you think? I would really like to hear what you think about these plans and what you would like to see from me going forward.