My husband asked me the other day what do I like more? Having my books on Amazon and other bookstores? Being “famous”? Getting a hard copy of my book in my hands (the unveiling, as people call it on Twitter and post videos of themselves crying upon opening a box of books)? Reviews? The strange thing is that it’s not any of these things (although reviews are great and greatly appreciated!). What I love most is the actual writing part of writing. I like the creation of a brand new world populated by beings from my imagination. I actually go through a mourning period after each story I finish. And I feel this way about my painting, too. Don’t get me wrong; having accomplished something as hard as writing a novel is nice. Real nice. But the time when I sit in front of my computer and put “words to paper” is the best part of writing for me. All those ideas and thoughts that were expressing themselves in my dreams (day and night), the little notes I wrote to myself about plot points or definitions of words, the searches through interesting imagery, the many months of research into the subject matter, all congeal into a story as I sit down to write it. And I get to watch it come to life in real time. It’s magic!
There are different kinds of writers. And by this I don’t mean the subject areas or the genres of their stories. It’s all about the creation process. Some writers create outlines and know exactly the story they are telling. There might be surprises–there always are–but generally speaking, those writers know the endings of their books before they put their pens to paper. Then there are writers like me. I’m, what’s called in the industry, a “seat of my pants” writer. That means that after doing all of the research and taking all of the notes and collecting hundreds of images…I just start writing. I have no idea how the story ends; I don’t know which characters will live and which won’t make it to the end. I’m just as surprised as my readers by the twists and turns of my stories. Crazy, right? But lots of writers write this way, just as lots of authors meticulously plot every detail of their stories. And, of course, there are many who fall somewhere on the continuum between these extremes.
One of the downsides of not having a story outline is that I have to reread everything I wrote the day prior before I start generating new material. This helps me to keep my story more cohesive. Sometimes (rarely), I have to go back and change a few facts to make my story take a twist that I dreamt about the night before. But the amazing thing is that it all works out! I believe that it works out because I spend so much time in “pre world”–it takes me a few years of gathering materials to get to the point of being ready to write. There is absolutely a ton of unconscious processing stuff that happens in my brain and that I get to see on paper (screen) only many months after the fact.
For example, I’ve been collecting information on language development and word formation, pronunciation drift and grammar evolution, cultural linguistic adjustments and political manipulations of discourse for many years. I’m about ready to write that novel… So far, I have written a micro short story that was produced into a radio play by 600 Second Saga: “Word Magic”.
And just as I’ve decided that it was time to pen that novel, another short story came out! This one incorporated language learning, artificial intelligence, and multiple personality disorder…of an onboard computer navigation system. Yep, it took me by surprise, but it turned out to be a good story…novella. I hope to release it in some form soon.
I’ve started on my word magic novel again…but got stuck in another novel. This one is about sacrifice and changing history. What would one give up to NOT have a disabling medical condition? This story is something strange and spooky, and it smells like dead leaves, and feels a little like “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Subconsciousness works in mysterious ways. If you are interested in checking out the way this story “looks” in my head, visit its Pinterest page. Creepy, right? Excellent…
This brings me back to “Harvest” and “God of Small Affairs”–my two novels that came out as bookends to 2019 summer. “Harvest” is hard science fiction. “Hard” doesn’t mean it is hard to read or understand, just that it has a lot of fun (and accurate) science in addition to a great story. It’s a story of first contact with an alien civilization. I wanted to know what it would really be like if we came across another intelligence? I think I’ve learned a lot… And in a strange twist of serendipity, I just finished “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking. A big portion of that book explores the same scientific and ethical ideas on which I built the story of “Harvest”! It’s nice to have validation from such an esteemed source!
The other story, “God of Small Affairs”, feels like a mirror image to “Harvest.” It’s a magical realism narrative–the story takes place in the here and now and deals with the world that we are all very familiar with…except that in this world, gods live among their people. One could simply walk up to a god and ask him or her questions, petition for a favor, or simply talk. What would that kind of world be like? What would those gods be like? Would the people they serve be strangely unable to grow up and take responsibility for making important decisions in their lives? Both stories deal with the rise of man on our planet, both focus on normal individuals pushed into difficult circumstances, and yet… It was very interesting to write these novels back to back. I wonder what it would feel like to read them this way as well? Somehow, these two stories feel stronger together. But after I’m done with writing them, it is up to the readers to discover them and love them. If I’m the mother of stories, the readers are their other parent, the one that nourishes them and gives them a future.
So happy reading! And thank you for reading!
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You’ve read to the end! Thank you! Here’s a link to a free short story.