Saturday, June 09, 2007

Back in the saddle

It's good to be writing a novel again.

I make that statement only now, after a suitable period of caution and reticence. Thing is, there comes a moment when you know—well I know!—you're 'in' it again. It is by no means clear that one necessarily is, even though one may have written several thousand words of a new work. With Tethys, for example, I had written almost 5000 at one stage—which is peanuts, and maybe took me two or three days—but then things kind of halted, because I realized the time wasn't right, and neither was the...well, let me call it 'mood'. The story was there and all, but only the story; the context, the framework, the mileposts, the direction, the necessary steps. The urgency was missing. It was hard, though the characters were well known to me, to push them into the plot-related and emotional directions they needed to go in. As I was trying to explain to the guy who thought novels were written from 'reason'—you might recall my blog about the Ayn Rand fan, who, by the way, hasn't shown up at the dojo anymore, and I'm kind of wondering if maybe it was because he was supposed to learn stuff, rather than just use it as a gym and for the sake of the punching bags we have hanging there—they aren't. They are written from the heart, and 'reason' just makes sure that the waters of the narrative, urged into flow by the gravitational force of emotion, are channeled in the right directions.

Same thing at this time applies to Dance of Tigers. I know where I'm going with this, but I'm not quite ready for it yet. On the other hand, Bodies—which, or so I am thinking right now, may still be a working title, and may become part of a series about something I'm not willing to talk about yet—feels right. The fact that I am 20k words into it, suggests that it may be writing itself, at least in a lot of the details. And that's all good, because it makes it interesting, unexpected, challenging. Also, leaving the sci-fi element out of it—except insofar as everything written even slightly in the future is science-fiction, which encompasses a lot of stuff not necessarily 'science' per se—actually makes it even more interesting. One kind of walks a fine line between conjecture that's perfectly legitimate, even in a entirely contemporary novel, and that which is obviously 'far out'. Nowadays, who can tell where the one begins and the other ends?

Still, whenever the sci-fi urge nudges me as I write Bodies, I resist firmly, and tell it to urge me some other time. No parallel universes, thank you; no laser guns; no space travel, no immortality; no amazing energy sources; no invisibility cloaks; no bionic people; no super weapons that will destroy our world; no psychic powers. Them's the rules. Somewhat strict for the likes of me, but I don't really mind. There's heaps of other stuff, and as I make this up as I go along, I realize just how much there really is. Science fiction writers, and especially the current crop—or maybe I'm being unfair, but it looks that way to me—often tend to get lost in the 'cool concept', when what really matters is what's known as 'stakes'. More about that in the next blog. And if you read the next blog before this, that's cool, because I'll make it self-contained.

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