I’ve spent most of the day working on Magic Numbers. It is a collaboration with Susan (who introduced a great new character a few days ago). This novel is interesting in a number of ways. First, I haven’t done a prose fiction collaboration in decades. (It’s fun!) Second, it allows me to revisit characters from the screenplay Warriors (though they are mutated beyond recognition). Third, it is the first story from an outline that I have done since 9/11.
My whole approach changed at that time. I wing it, with no attention to markets, being deeply serious or the risk of painting myself into a corner. I write for the love of writing, and I let the results end up as they are meant to. This means I constantly surprise myself (or, rather, the characters surprise me). The whole experience is better for me, and I think it is better for readers as well.
It was not easy for me to choose to write this way. A lot of what I write doesn’t go anywhere. Is it wasted? I don’t think so. Since the whole experience is enhanced, I think those words are part of the tribute to my muse. Do I lament the time lost? In part. When you steal time to write fiction, you really want it all to count. Alas, this is not to be for me. But I do write a lot more than I did before I made this choice. So finished output is not diminished, and I take some solace in that.
A word about rewriting and winging it. It’s about the same. I need to push words around, tease out images, kill my darlings and go back to the drawing board about the same amount no matter what approach I take. Rewriting is not my favorite part of writing. I actually like the blank page. And it doesn’t get easier as I get older and as I write more. But I think the results of rewriting are improving with time. I hope they are. Best lesson: Don’t rewrite immediately. I get much better results when I let the piece cool down for a month. I hate waiting, but it seems to be another part of the process.
Getting back to Magic Numbers, will the… er… magic be lost as I work from an outline? I don’t know yet. I suspect collaborating will inject a different feeling into it, and that might help. Also, it feels so far like my winging it writing. Will the rewriting be different? That, I think, will be better. I’m rewriting nonfiction now with a collaborator, and all the stupid stuff I can’t see gets fixed without my lifting a finger. Rewriting with a collaborator, as long as the collaboration is working, is much less of a drudgery. I wouldn’t want to do it that way every time, but it feels like a vacation. We’ll see.
I’ve noticed more than the usual viewings of my blog. Is the link in the blog for M-Brane SF the source? Possibly. I’m in the roster of authors, even though my story, The Charisma Plague, will not appear until June 15 with issue #5. The editor accepted the story despite the unreliable narrator that disturbed other editors. (Some wanted me to rewrite it into a conventional story. Ha!) Anyway, if you got here that way, welcome.