On January 19, “that novel” (counting from when I wrote down the first scenes of the original version) turned twenty-four years old. See why I call it “that novel I may finish one of these decades”? *sigh* (It could’ve been finished years ago, but once it got absorbed as part of the overall story arc, it was decided that waiting made more sense.)
Sunlight, cold and remote at eight AU from the home of humankind… Once upon a time, that was how the first sentence began. I’ve kept most of the opening sentence, but it has moved quite a bit further along into the manuscript. (You know how the conventional wisdom is that all writers, all the time, start their stories too soon and have to cut about three chapters from the beginning? Well, for me, it’s the opposite: I start the story a bit too late and have to add to the front end.)
People like to read about writers’ “process,” right? So I’ve been told, anyway, and I like to read about other writers’ processes because I’m fascinated by how creativity happens in other people. (Even my clone has been thinking about his own writing process a lot lately. You may be happy to hear that he’s been edging into another fiction-writing binge. Listening to music a lot: he discovered Death Cab for Cutie last week, and “Soul Meets Body” has been heard playing on repeat at times… We’ll probably see a finished version of Project Brimstone before anything else, but unless the world ends next month, there will be more novels by Paul B. Spence soon.) So think of this as a Weaver-style post about one kind of writing process, a.k.a. “Thoughts in My Head: the Novel-Anniversary Edition.”
Chances are (unless the backstory is actually a precognition, in which case none of this matters anyway), “that novel” will be published within a couple of years from now. Chances are, someone will complain loudly about the “political correctness” of referring to Earth as the home of humankind rather than the home of mankind. So I’m saying it again: that word choice was deliberate, yes, but the point was to emphasize species — which completely went over the heads of the people in the group where I workshopped the original version, but whatever. They also had a collective hissy-cow because Aiden Teige doesn’t act like Jim Kirk. And half of ’em hated Marlie Carlisle because she sometimes uses sarcasm or loses her temper, which (so they informed me) aren’t things women ever do. (Imagine me rolling my eyes at this.)
Conventional wisdom has it that writers never want to allow anything bad to happen to their characters. Conventional wisdom has it that writers struggle constantly to come up with situations that are even the slightest bit awkward, stressful, or dangerous… Conventional wisdom, as you may have guessed, is often full of shit.
I have much more to say about recent developments in our fiction writing, but that’s for the next posts…