Monday, November 21, 2016

Looking forward: Into the Future

When the hard drive in my Toshiba laptop locked up a few months ago, I found myself in a tight fix. All of the backups were in WinZip files, and I had to learn to use a Mac, as that was all I could manage to get. While I am deeply grateful for the friends who arranged for me to have the Mac, I'm not a spring chicken, as the saying goes, and though I had less trouble adapting to the new operating system (OS), I still could not access my archived manuscripts. To this day, I cannot access them on the portable hard drive backup.

Let this be a lesson, writers. Back up your computer at least daily, and then back up works in progress (WIPs) on their own, in a widely accepted format such as RTF. I have learned my lesson. Several manuscripts were and are misplaced. 

What does one do when going back isn't an option? Well, that's easy. Go forward! So... I did. Almost all of the several WIPs were mainstream, historical, and so on. I didn't want to stir the existing pot in the meantime, nor did I want to waste time doing nothing. In short, I went far forward. Furturistic, in fact, all the way into dystopian science fiction. New territory, clean off the beaten path. Well... my beaten path. 

I love to learn new things. Hobby or heartbeat, I write. It's a Zen process to me, leaving anxieties and depression soothed, the mind becalmed, and sleep processes filled with productive thinking instead of circling around and around looking for a way out. When I started writing, I had no idea this would happen. It's been compared to a fountain one cannot turn off, and I concur with that assessment. I find the effects to be quite real.

Turning loose my imagination, I sent the hounds down many disparate paths, seeking a trail among the darkness. I tied that off with threads of reality and past personal experience, and then I lit the fires under the kettle, seeking to set the dye. 

The result is colorful, and it's in its first draft, complete, starting on the second draft. Beta readers' impressions verified my personal opinion that I had kept the reins too tight. The changes will be wide, but bound tight to the mainframe of the beast.

First, I asked myself, "What do we all want? Where does the biggest mystery hide in plain sight? What makes truth sing, and makes the reader homesick and hungry for more?" From these questions, more poured out. And The Wayfarer was born.

While I believe in the other works (The Glimmerings series and The Tooth, Claw, and Hoof Stories were written primarily for fun and practice, with a little hope of income trickling in along the way), The Wayfarer, originally intended as a stand alone novel, has taken on a life of its own, and led me down some mighty curious paths. It spans roughly 5,000 years, all angles taken under consideration, and introduces us to Alik and Jocelyn, a pair of resourceful people who, of course, find some hard decisions between them and the hope of basic survival. Found family, as I call such relationships.

In this story, wild, strange things happened to my imagination. I kept a lid on it until I could be sure... but I also kept detailed notes. It's a good thing I did. A good thing I love to read and do research into widely varied themes. The Wayfarer is gaining by it.

True, I may not be the greatest writer in the world, and science fiction may not fit some people's image of classic literature (I know better, having read across many genres for decades), yet it occurs to me that this item is growing beyond what I had originally envisioned. It's not merely a source of mental soothing, a containment field, if you want to call it that, for the twists of mental struggle in some bad-luck hard times we didn't ask for in the first place. It may be a result of hard times, but I feel it has grown, surprisingly, beyond them. Or perhaps because of them.

I'm learning. I delight in learning. There are not enough hours in the day, or days in the years allotted to me, to learn all I would like to learn. This, however, is the art form my physical being will allow me, and enjoy it while learning.

With luck, this book (with or without later sequels) may see a number of readers. I leave you with a few thoughts...

Work in progress, first draft complete.
Earlier books, all available on Amazon.