15 March 2013

Do you have the Curse? (Or, Curses! Fictioned again!)

It's been a rough month, er, uh, two weeks...seems like a month. First I bombed on my Oscar predictions. Then I bombed in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Then I was overwhelmed by the day job, wrapping up the first half of the semester. But I suppose nobody wants to hear about my misery--which is fair because I wouldn't want to hear about your misery. Misery does not actually like company, because one misery won't listen patiently to another misery. Who came up with that idea, anyway? All right, never mind, forget it.

The latest news is that I have been writing on THE DREAM LAND Book III "Diaspora" and it is coming along just fine. It has been a while since I've written new material for anything. So much time spent editing and rewriting manuscripts I thought were finished but then discovered they needed serious revision to be publishable. I have two out: AFTER ILIUM, my contemporary tale of seduction and betrayal on the Turkish coast. Also, THE DREAM LAND Book I "Long Distance Voyager" is available now. THE DREAM LAND Book II "Dreams of Future's Past" will be out by the start of summer.

Back to Book III. After Book I was finished, I rushed ahead into Book II, even though I had no plans to make it a trilogy when I started Book I. Then I got stopped about 75 pages into Book II and put it aside for what turned out to be 10 years. (I did write an MFA thesis [a novel] and a dissertation on writing instruction during the interval). I've told the story previously but to recap: a student of mine brought a short story to me for feedback and it was similar enough to my Book II idea that it poked my brain and motivated me to return to Book II. I suddenly had the plot conundrum figured out. I wrote through the scene that had stopped me and on I went to the end--simultaneously finishing the dissertation.

But back to Book III. When I finished Book II, this time I knew I was pushing ahead with a trilogy, and even had tentative ideas for a fourth and fifth volume if time was kind to me. I did not dive ahead into Book III but paused to plan it out. Then, one night when the music fit my brain and my body was barely awake and my mind was sluggish and ready for sleep, the waves parted and there was the dry path leading across the gulf. I proceeded onward, Moses-like in my obsession with solving the riddle of fiction. It is a riddle, isn't it--as surely as the riddle of steel with which Conan struggles!

What is so amiss inside my skull that every image and act I experience can instigate a fluid causal chain of  episodes for several degrees before pittering out?

That seems weird. The right music added to the mix (see blog post here) is like a steroid injection and the effect is heightened. I become unaware that I am creating scenarios and possibilities as those my fingers were actually fitted with strings to pull. I lose touch with reality--with one reality--and become enfolded in something like gelatin wherein all manner of probabilities exist simultaneously and yet as if by gravity am I compelled in this direction or that direction, like a magician on a moving walkway heading to a boarding gate, wondering if the flight is cancelled, delayed, or running on time, and whether or not my baggage has enough underwear for the trip.

You see what I mean? It's a curse. A curse, I tell you!

But back to Book III again. Part One reintroduces us to the principal players and the situations in which they find themselves after the end of Book II. Part Two introduces the new problems, which are threefold: a comet is headed to the planet, our hero discovers his nemesis and each gathers an army to do battle. Part Three focuses on what the population will do to deal with the comet: build some rockets and flee the planet, pray desperately for salvation, or escape through the interdimensional doorway that only our hero knows. Part Four is a set of lavish conclusions where each avenue is explored to its unexpected end.

Will there be a fourth book? By the Gods of Royalties, we shall see!

In The Midnight Disease by Alice Weaver Flaherty we learn how some of us (or them, not us!) cannot help ourselves. The quirks of brain function align thoughts and propel narrative in ways we struggle to control. The lucky ones channel it into fiction, the very luckiest into publishable fiction, and the rest settle for mental illness labels that do nothing more than assuage the obvious: that humans are narrative machines who must invent plots in order to keep going in our fictive lives. Changing everything by changing one thing is the mantra that lives between fingers and keyboard or fingers and pen or voice and dictaphone or...you get the idea. No matter what society may say about me, I have an excuse: I'm a writer. Anything I experience, including you, can and will be used in a book of fiction.

There you have it. My confession. Do not quote me, or if you do, please use a pseudonym...like I do. Maybe. You never can be sure, eh? Hah hah hah and LOL lol lol.

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

1 comment:

  1. There will be a fourth book, because you can't stop! It's in your blood, and even if it doesn't happen this year, there will be another!