Okay, break (or mourning period for my civil liberties under Stephen Harper) is over. Back to the blahg.
So, what topic to cover for my return to my own damn website?
Well, as this is supposed to be where I blahg about my writing and stuff…let’s talk about my writing!
Previously I may have mentioned that I was working on two different novels, simultaneously. That is no longer the case; one of them has pushed the other onto the back burner, insisting upon its own completion first. It’s an alien invasion story of a different sort, and I’m finding, rather dramatically, that it’s exploring a lot more themes and moral and social issues than your standard ETs Come to Earth to Fuck Shit Up story. But then, it was never supposed to be that kind of Alien Invasion story, so I’m letting this one do what I usually do, and let the story tell itself to me, while I write.
Stories have a way of revealing themselves to me rather unusually. This alien invasion story, for example, came about as a vivid nightmare that took place years after “the invasion”, becoming the launch-point for the story. Another story, the one that I’m telling in the Omniverse series, came about in a rather different fashion. I’ve told this story before (though not here), and I guess that story bears repeating, here.
The Omniverse, from The Unearthing to the yet-to-be-written concluding novel (Title in production) came to me one night, nearly 20 years ago. Wow…I’ve actually told people this story so often I’m getting a little tired of repeating it! Anyway, I was home alone one night, and I was in a prolonged period of writer’s block, not having written word one for two years. Then all of a sudden I experienced what I have always referred to as The Download.
I – literally – experienced the entire story from beginning to end like one massive waking dream; I saw every event, its placement in every book, knew what had to happen, how, when and where…and the whole thing left me feeling dazed, and with a pretty bad headache. I liken the experience to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Inner Light”. In the episode, an alien probe zaps Captain Picard with a ray that leaves him flopping on the deck for several minutes, while he experiences an entire lifetime on the doomed-to-extinction planet of Kataan.
I came out of my Download with the story compressed into five book-sized packets inside my brain, and have been compelled to write about it, ever since.
So yes, that means when I was writing The Unearthing I was already yearning for Through Darkness and Stars and mapping out how Tactical Time Travel would work, in Chronicles of the Aeons War. I also knew back then what would happen in Book Four, when the heroes turn their attention to the Nimbus, and many characters left behind in The Unearthing and Darkness will return, in some surprising ways. As to Book Five…all I can say is that you won’t have read anything like it.
When a story imposes itself, you (if you are a writer) will find yourself compelled to write it. Like some sort of addiction, you’ll feel the sensation of the drug; in this case, imagination firing and the touch and sound of fingers on keys (or pen on paper if you’re REALLY O.G.). When a story imposes itself, you can never really NOT be writing it, because you will be thinking about it in the back of your mind, all the time. You could be working; making supper; playing with your children; taking a walk; making love; doing the shopping…and some corner of your mind will be going “What happens next and how do we get it to happen properly?”
Eventually you’ll have some sort of episode, and drop everything to write. This doesn’t happen often, usually, but it happens at least once or twice per novel (at least for me). And God help you if you get something from the story wrong, because the story will usually force you to go back and fix it NOW, and bug you about it until it’s done.
So even as I work on the story I’m working on now, Book Four of the Omniverse is still rattling around its cage in my brain. I’ve already “unpackaged” most of the story and am mentally assembling it. I already know of at least three plot twists that will seriously mindfuck some of you guys…but it’s not like it’ll be the first time I do that, now, will it?