Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mad studies

Sometimes I find myself in interesting, physical places to match my mental ones. Recently, I was standing in a warehouse that rented props to theaters and movie sets in the area, staring into the eyes of a giant, furry spider that someone had jokingly placed on the neck (in place of the head) of a mannequin clad in roman centurion armor. Nearby, a copse of angels of varying sizes made from foam but painted to look like aged stone did a frozen ballet. A precarious stack of chandeliers and candelabras shone under fluorescent lighting like brass of differing stages of upkeep. A friend, the reason I was there, finished his explanation about what kind of furniture he was looking for, and how it would be used. "That's weird," I said. "Why would anyone ever sit like that?"

"They wouldn't" he said nonchalantly, "It's a theatrical convention the audience buys because we ask them to." And just like that, I transferred from one of those interesting physical places into one of those mental ones.

Recently, I have been taking down whatever notes I think up in a re-creation, or re-envisioning, of my futuristic worlds. The difficulty of attempting to portray a believable future, I always thought, was similar to a blind person describing something they had never seen. As the years roll by, people like to look back at how fiction writers thought things would be, and how they actually are. Not harshly, I don't think, because there's no way to see the future. I rather think because of the fluid nature of time, it wouldn't look like anything, or would blind the viewer. Still, it's compelling to look for, at least it is for me.

But are there conventions we all agree on that could make the task easier? Are readers asked to buy into things that they freely pay, without ever thinking or wondering? The answer feels like a resounding yes, yet I couldn't say what any of those conventions might be, or even how to use them to my advantage were I even to know about them.

Then again, how fascinating can something be if to even consider it, it gives you a headache?

The short is happening soon. Meanwhile, the notes on the next book (the last of the paranormal series) have been stalled by my utter lack of familiarity at what precisely happened in the three preceding stories. For those of you who are new (or those older readers needing reminding), my series has a crystal caste shape, one initial book, then three sequels that occur in different places in similar time, each of which is followed by a sequel of its own, each of those being followed by one, singular finale. It is that finale that I will be attempting to finish before 2014, but to do so, the three books which preceded it must be fresh in mind. I am very determined to get the ending right.

Beyond that, the science fiction book is still waiting at chapter 15. Years ago, I might have been able to fool myself this was fine, that since I was rethinking my entire conception of outer space and alien planets in a futuristic settings (just think at how many different places our one planet has, and I've written four into my story) it would be fine to leave it half done. Now, I know I'm in trouble. It needs to be finished. No matter how vapid or uninspired, it needs punctuation or else it will forever risk never being picked up again. Spring has come, so I failed that deadline. The new plan is to get back on that particular horse come May, and finish it by the end of summer. That leaves me all of fall and half of winter for the next book. Editing for he fourth book's release is coming down the pipeline, but even with those frenetic weeks, I'm confident that I can do it.

Now let's see if I will. 

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