Writing a sequel

Some of you may know that I began writing the sequel to Mother of Creation in August. If you follow my Twitter, you know that I am a little over 20,000 words in and that, between my full-time job, the things in life that keep me sane like friends and family and reading, and all the other obligations of adulthood, I have been making somewhat halting progress. My word count will lunge forward one week, and then plod the next two. This is, I’m sure, normal.

(At least, I tell myself it is normal. If it isn’t then there isn’t much I can do about it, in any case.)

Writing the sequel has been an interesting challenge for a lot of reasons. I wrote Mother of Creation four years ago. While I have certainly continued editing and working through the text since then, I have changed as a person since I wrote the first book. My relationship with the characters has also changed. That said, I have a pretty clear idea of the overall plot of the Creation Saga. The devil is, as they say, in the details. Getting from point A to point B is a bit like driving down a mountain road drunk. You know where you’re going and how to get there, but you’re not sure how much control you have over the vehicle, and you might wreck and die. Also, the brakes are failing.

When writing the first book, I didn’t have these panicky feelings of “oh I’m going to fuck this up.” Part of that is because it’s hard to hit my stride with this book. And that is because, over the course of the four years that I have been working my way back around to the Creation Saga, I have written several very vivid scenes from all over the timeline for this second installment. Like I said, my views on the characters and their responses have changed a little bit in the interim, and whenever I hit one of these scenes I have to stop, backtrack, and figure out a few things. Does the scene still fit? Usually, this is a yes, but it might need some heavy chopping or a change in POV or some tweaking in language to make it to conform to previous chapters I’ve written more recently.

I know this challenge is making me a better writer. I’m certainly not worried about finishing this book, and I’m confident it will be a great one. But in the interim, writing this is a little more like pulling teeth than usual.

But hey, I’m like a fifth of the way through.

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For the love of the craft

There has been a lot of upheaval in the writing world recently, especially in science fiction and fantasy.

Me, I’m a fan. Let me get that out there now. I am a fan of change, of expanding and pressing boundaries, of engaging critically with our roots, our history, our ways of seeing the world. I think that the things that attracted me to SFF were always these things. Even as a child, reading Tolkien, the narrative that I grasped, that I clung to, was not a narrative of convention. How can you read Tolkien and take away from it “be like everyone else, think like everyone else?” Neither Frodo nor Bilbo fit into the boxes of their conservative Hobbit society. Both Frodo and Bilbo, one perhaps more willingly than the other, leave their tiny lives and set out to see a broader, more vast world, full of cultures and ideas they had never conceived of.

I start with Tolkien because for me that is where SFF started. This is not to say that is the same place someone else might start. People come into this genre from all directions. There has been some form of SFF around for a long damn time. Fairytales in England, mythologies of men and women with terrible powers in Greece, time travel and spirits in Japan. The imagination of humankind is wild. It runs amok. Speculative stories, speculative fiction, is not a new thing, only an evolving one. But I digress. The point is, people come at SFF from all sorts of ways because it is vast. It contains multitudes. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be SFF.

So I am a fan of diversifying fiction. I want new stories, new ideas. This is why I read what I read and write what I write. But we all know it can get sticky. It can get hard to know when you are being supportive and when you are absconding with a story someone else would tell better. And it can be hard to look back at those writers that you loved as a child, at their stories, and realize that those writers may not quite be such great people. That their stories might have flaws, might not be accessible for others. That the world isn’t black and white, but muddled all through with gray.

Look, for example, at the controversy with Lovecraft. No one argues that Lovecraft wrote poorly when they critique him, of course. We all know he was a master of horror (I know it so well I don’t read him because I don’t want to get nightmares, but his influence on pop culture is undeniable). The problem is that when an artist becomes famous, it becomes impossible to separate their ethics from their works. When we admire the man without acknowledging his flaws and issues with vast swaths of our community, when we honor him at the expense of that community, when we ignore the shadows and stains in favor of an altered view of history, in favor of erasure – that is the problem.

How we avoid that is a political issue, of course. It’s a decision we all have to make together, through negotiating and civility and protest and all the other ways a community works towards a decision. But the need for avoiding glossing over the hurtful views expressed by Lovecraft is not predominantly political, but ethical. When we do not acknowledge darkness in our lives and in ourselves, we give it the power to continue existing and growing. Our stories become less when they don’t shine a light in the dark places. I certainly don’t think Tolkien would disagree with that sentiment, would he?

 

Launch

Hello everyone!

This is the first post of the blog I will be keeping on my official author website! I cannot promise that posts will be the most regular (I also post on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, so for more regular information please check those out). However, I hope to document major events in the writing process. Subscribe to keep in the loop with current projects, new reviews, and other fun information about my books.

I first published in February 2013, so this website is a long time coming. Following the publishing of my initial standalone novel, Child of Brii, I enrolled in a graduate school program. This put a bit of a damper in my productivity. My second book, Mother of Creation, came out during this two year program. You can find out about both books here. They are available on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, and you can also read Part I of Child of Brii on Wattpad.

The website itself is likely to go through some changes in the next few months. As a preliminary design I feel good about it, but I would like to personalize some aspects of it more. Don’t be surprised if you come back to a face-lift of the site sometime this winter! I’m looking forward to having a more concrete home for my material on the internet.

Until the next post!