Writing Goings On
My Greatest Challenge:
However, logistical decisions are often daunting. For example, I had to plan and describe space battles. While I knew who would be involved and the result that I wanted, I was blank about how to arrive there. I was ignorant about the setting. That realization lead to six months of astronomical study, which then helped me to create, name and map three alien solar systems. Next, I decided on the design, type of propulsion, speeds and weaponry of four kinds of spaceships. I then plugged those specs into my solar system maps, to figure out how long it would take my characters to traverse distances. Finally, I chose the number and categories of the ships engaged in battles, and counted them down as they were destroyed. With this framework, writing the scenes flowed.
Following my plot and tracking the character arcs, I dipped in and out of writing and development. None of my creations are finite -- I often have to add complexity -- I have have many, many documents on file. Each chapter has a themed title and contains a few sections, written from different points of view. Often, I altered my plot (cards) in order to group similar themes together in interesting ways and for the build-up of dramatic tension and its resolution – a miniature Act 1, 2 and 3 – within each scene. Thus, I moved the major characters through experiences to support their trajectory toward their planned transformations.
Yet, most important was obeying my character’s voices; they told me what they would do, say or think in a situation. If I couldn’t hear them, back to background creation I went. One of the most strange and rewarding aspects of my project is that my characters are now alive in me, guiding me in writing the second book. Perhaps it’s a healthy version of having multiple personalities.
Eventually, I finished a vivid and richly imagined book that I am proud of. In the process, I have also transformed – into an author.
On Beginnings and Endings
All my life, I've divided my reading between classics and Spec Fiction. A few days ago, I finished reading Marcel Proust's 7 volume masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time. I was reading with a small group of dauntless souls, for a class that began in September 2019. Fairly soon in our studies, I realized that we would all benefit from maintaining a character list, as the complex French names, from the aristocratic, bourgeois and working classes would quickly sink our group into confusion. In the edition that we worked with, there was a glossary only in the final book.
So, having already made stacks of documents of characters, political events, solar systems, etc, for my Convergence, I volunteered to keep a running list for the class, focusing not only on their identities, but notating the many life changes that the characters went through. Three days ago, I finished reading the final book. My character list grew into a 48 page manuscript.
I learned so much from Proust's language use! From how he can expound on abstract ideas with spot - on analogies to the societal or scientific developments of his time; to how he can poetically describe the intricacies of someone's face or expression; to how he relates a witty exchange in a salon. Though his work isn't easy to read, once you get used to his extremely long sentences and refined tastes, it flows. I cannot count how many times I have laughed, or exclaimed "wow," as I went through his pages, underlining to keep my concentration sharp, and putting asterisks or hearts by important or favorite passages.
Completing it feels like I'm walking away from an engrossing world -- a series of ordinary and unusual events, made extraordinary by how finely he describes them, and ruminates on their deeper meanings. I know that nothing else that I can read will compare to the copious list of outstanding qualities found in his writing. That's a little sad. However, having made it through, I also feel fortified and somehow wiser.
I am ready to embark on my next journey as an author. Once this web-site is done, I will query literary agents for my Sci-Fi epic. Having read his work, I feel protected, as Proust likely did, when he piled on winter coats against his asthma. As I venture out to share my work with professionals, maybe I too am shielded -- from poor matches. Merçi beaucoup, Monsieur!