“Sunlight, cold and remote…”

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…

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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4 Responses to “Sunlight, cold and remote…”

  1. ziresta says:

    “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.”

    Have these people ever met an actual woman?! How do people get through life being so stupid?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love that line. My writing process seems much like your process; I get excited and begin and then develop greater understanding of what I’m writing about. Eventually chapter one is way back in the middle. I love writing this way. It’s a joyous process of creative exploration for me, and probably good therapy.

    I love writing a woman who is sarcastic or angry. They’re the best characters for me. I like strong women.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Thomas. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Conventional wisdom among writers seems to be more full of shit than some disciplines. I have an opposite problem, that is, keeping my characters out of devastating situations. If my character is happy and successful, you can be sure I struggled for hours to make that happen. For me, it’s easier to write them bleeding out from a stab wound while chained to the floor in a rat-infested dungeon as their best friend runs off with their lover. Oh, yeh, and they’re starving. It’s freezing. And their dog just died.

    Liked by 1 person

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