With slightly less than twenty-four hours to go before we can all sit down and start writing this novel that I’ve been going on about for the past three months, I thought I might give a little bit of consideration to where I am right now and where it might take my thoughts on Tuesday as I set out to decide what I’m actually going to write here…
So, guys, I’m going to be honest: I’m thinking about space a lot lately. This isn’t really news for anyone who knows me. I think about space pretty much all of the time. But I’m currently reading (and it looks very much to be my Last Book of the Year) a copy of Packing For Mars, Mary Roach’s excellent non-fiction work about the science and history of living in space, and something about it has really been getting under my skin. I’ve also been slowly collecting a small stack of similarly themed pieces at work for the past while, and it could all make for very interesting research material should I work my way towards the idea of doing some near future science fiction.
Beyond that, well, detective stories have always been sort of popular with me. I get a lot of joy out of constructing and executing those, though mine often tend to get tangled up in some other genre or grand over-complication. Might be that I’ll finally try to do one that adheres fully to the Chandlerian tradition.
Fantasy is probably right out—or at least swords and horses fantasy. I wrote one of those for National Novel Writing Month back in November (my first attempt at a fantasy novel, actually) and it warped my brain in some funny ways for the duration. I found myself spending huge amounts of page space describing trees and wagons. I wrote a song. A song. I hate when there are songs in fantasy novels! And yet, despite my predilections towards a grittier, more streamlined type of fantasy novel, something very traditional spilled out of me. It was strange, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it.
That’s kind of what I mean by all of this, though. I keep treating this upcoming bit of experiment like it’s some sort of well-rehearsed demonstration, and I’ll just come out and hit all of my marks and read all of my lines, and then a novel will be born out of the aether and you’ll buy it and somehow that will make me a millionaire. But there’s no guarantee of that. Odds are good that I’ll be able to sit down at lunch on Tuesday and I’ll be able to just pull an idea for a whole novel out of my ass, but I can only say that because I’ve done it often enough in the past to trust that I’m capable of it on the fly. It’s not a certainty. There’s no telling whether or not I’ll come around on New Year’s Day and want to spend all of my time finishing a short story that I set aside two months ago, or playing video games, or walking the dog. I’ll chronicle it—because that’s what this site is for—but it could be several days before I come across an idea that really sings to me, and, even after, that the odds are pretty good that it could change forms a few times over the next week; swapping concepts and themes and genres.
I don’t know. I guess maybe I’ve got the jitters about this whole thing. I’m tremendously excited about it, definitely, but there’s also the apprehension there that lurks by the trail-head of every new undertaking. And maybe you don’t want to know about that. Maybe you want me to swagger into this all confident and just completely wow you with how easy I make it all look (though if you had ever seen me swagger you would reconsider that), but that’s not really what this is all about, is it?
I want you, Dear Readers, to know that this is kind of hard and scary for me. Not because I want you to pity me or comfort me, but because I want you to know about the process and what all of this is like for a writer. This is part of that. Fear and apprehension and neurotic twitching. Starting a new novel is, in a lot of ways, like starting any new job.
For all of that, though, I’m good to go. I’m ready for this. I’m ready to see where it goes. And because of that excitement…well, I guess I’ll see you all here tomorrow.