Introduction to the Accountability Post 2021 Week 33
This week reminded me of what I like about writing. It also reminded me of something I don’t like about writing. Among the many things I like about writing is world-building. In particular, I’ve always loved designing the hardware in my stories. At first, in the late 1970s, I tried to understand the technology enough to actually design the ships. I had been inspired by a set of blueprints for the original Star Trek Enterprise. I still have the designs around here somewhere. Of course, my attempt was doomed to failure. I was a farm kid from Ohio trying to design Tachyon-powered star ships. But it taught me two things.
First, it taught me that no, I have no hope of designing a starship. Not a working starship. That’s an important lesson, even if it sounds stupendously obvious in hindsight. It’s helpful because, as Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limitations” (it’s around the 3:00 mark if you’re the impatient sort). Knowing my limitations helps me either push beyond them or further work around them. Since I didn’t pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering, I work around that lack of knowledge.
The second thing it taught me is that despite not being able to build the ships, I could better visualize the environments my characters would inhabit. That’s a huge plus! I’ve started thinking of those designs as the equivalent of movie sets, and I still have a lot of fun with them.
What don’t I like about writing? I’ll get to that in a minute. It might not be what you think!
Accountability Post 2021 Week 33 By the Numbers
By the end of the previous week, I’d written 6,447 words to take the total for Book Two to 55,827. How’d I do this week?
Wow. Looks like I got lazy on a couple of days this week! Please, let me explain…
I wrote 7,823 words to push the total to 63,650 words.
The great news is that I wrote five out of seven days last week. The good news is that I cruised around 2,500 words a day on a couple of those days. That’s my nominal target for a two hour writing session. Some day, when I grow up enough to retire, I hope to stack 3 writing sessions in a single day.
However, on two of those days, I didn’t even break 1,000 words. And one of those days I only wrote 191 words! What’s up with that?
I’m now writing Pinch 1 for all arcs. That’s the arc that forces the hero to action. One of the things I’m doing to force Dek Conrad to act is introduce a new threat. I had to build out the space fleet from the EU member nation Germany to do that. “Good heavens, Crow,” you might exclaim. “Are you really being so cliche as to vilify Germany?”
I’m happy to answer that no, I’m not. In the world I’m writing, Germany is the strongest economic power in the EU, and she’s rightfully proud of that role. She’s pushing the EU’s agenda — hard — so the country as a whole is firmly on the side of the protagonists. However, like any country, she has her factions. One of those factions has sided with the novel’s villain, Terran Consolidated Products, and… Well, I don’t want to give too much away. I’ll just say this: I had to research Germany’s current military, project how it would look in a couple hundred years, figure out politically how/why it would exist in the context of the greater EU military, and then pervert it all for the story.
You’re looking at the summary of two days’ work! I picked an actor to play each of those characters, researched where they came from, and tried to give them a plausible political context for their decisions.
It was a lot of work. It kept my word output below a thousand words over Saturday and Sunday combined. But it’s going to make the story more interesting, plausible, and, I hope, exciting. It was also a ton of fun.
And What I Don’t Like Is…?
Seeing how much I love world-building, you might think that I dislike the actual writing part. If you’re like me, you may have seen this meme:
I tried to find the original, but the closest I could come with this Pinterest pin.
When I first saw that, I laughed. The meme almost felt accusing to me! But no, in all honest, I love the writing part. I love how the braided outline I came up with gives me guard rails. I love how the details seem to spontaneously pop up out of the interaction of character, plot, theme, and other elements. Now, I know there’s a scientific explanation for creativity, and I respect that. But this is as close as I’ll ever get to experiencing magic. Unless a sufficiently advanced civilization stops by!
What I don’t like is the direction my Self Defeat Subsystems have taken recently. Historically, I’ve been at my peak creativity when I try to sabotage myself. I have to say, of all the things I’ve ever done, that’s one of the only things that impresses me. It’s defeated top psychologists, and it’s ripped holes in advice from friends and family. It even demolished the deep thought from the greats like Thomas Aquinas. Pretty impressive, huh?
I just wish I could get it to shift sides.
What Was It This Time?
I had regained my poise after the last attack of my inner demons. Honestly, I still worry I have too many Point of View characters in this series, but dang it, I really like them! I’ll have to see how beta readers and the developmental editor react. But I had gotten myself back on solid ground when I read this post of advice for science fiction writers by David Brin.
David Brin is one of my favorite science fiction writers. I consider his Uplift Series to be the reference implementation for all that’s good in of hard science fiction. If you read my anime site, you know the high esteem in which I hold the series Re:CREATORS. It’s my all time favorite anime series. By far. Bar none. All those cliches.
Widen the lens to consider all works of fiction, and Re:CREATORS takes second place to the Uplift Series.
You may wonder why advice from my favorite writer would set off Yet Another Crisis of Confidence (YACoC — yeah, I’ll go ahead and acronym-fiy it). It was this sentence:
Even I can’t convince me I’m incapable of hard work. I’d compare my work output, dedication, and willingness to do whatever it takes against anyone. Well, any civilians, anyway. I don’t want to get carried away.
But here’s the thing. I have a degree in Roman Catholic theology with concentrations in Christology, Moral Systematic Theology, and Eschatology. I’ve studied the world for all the years I’ve been alive, and with the help of the insights I’ve gained, I now can put into words something I’ve always suspected. And it’s this: God gave me a desire to write so strong that I literally (using that word correctly!) cannot stop writing. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. I cannot not write.
And I suspect that it’s all going to mean precisely and exactly nothing. That the one poor soul who buys my book is destined to only barely able to finish the cautionary one-star review on Amazon before the ambulance takes him to the hospital, where I hope he recovers from the wounds incurred trying to read my book.
And do you know what really, really, oh-my-god really, sucks?
It doesn’t matter. I’m still going to write the (again, literally) goddamned thing.
Isn’t that hilarious? I think maybe it’s my mission to channel Dante and write the new Divine Comedy. I wonder if that would sell better than the series I’m currently planning to write?
Previous Week’s Goals
- Finish Jack Booth’s Plot Turn 1: Complete!
- Work on Booth’s Pinch 1: Complete!
- Work on Conrad’s Pinch 1: Complete!
- As a stretch objective, work on Ira Malhotra’s Pinch 1 Started
Malhotra’s Pinch 1 triggered me building out Germany’s space fleet. So actually, even though I was slow a couple of days, I hit the main goals! I even started the stretch goal.
Next Week’s Goals
Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this week:
- Finish Malhotra’s Pinch 1
- Finish Atticus Porter’s Pinch 1
- Work on Stein’s Pinch 1
- As a stretch objective, start on Liam Martin’s Pinch 1
How big a hammer do you need to use to keep your inner demons under control? Or, if you don’t have inner demons, what’s that like? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!