I’m over on Lee Mather‘s journal today, being interviewed regarding Brutal Light and other writerly topics. I’m covering some ground here not covered anywhere else, so be sure to check it out!
I’m guest blogging on RJ Sullivan‘s blog today, nattering on about “The Story Behind Brutal Light”, wherein I tell the epic tale of how I pulled together enough neurons to write a novel, all the failed previous attempts, and how chucking most of that previous work helped me write the book published today. Do stop by and natter at me!
I know where my ideas come from.
They come from the murky insides of my head, from the hole where I pour all the things I read and watch and think about. There are things that have been added recently, and things that have been fermenting for as long as I can recall. Many of these things have been in the soup so long all rememberance of where they came from before have eroded away, or become grossly distorted. Many of these things have combined with other things, becoming something else entirely.
They can see out of the hole. They know what’s going on, out in the Cartesian Theater where my illusion of consciousness and control hangs out, working the controls of the body. Sometimes, when something flashes across the stage, it draws these things. Makes them want to come out.
Other times, I have to reach in and haul them out, whether they’re done fermenting or not. The best bits are never quite ready for their showtimes… but I pull them out anyway. They come out in my words and my stories. In truth, they are also still in the hole, looking for new things to join to, to congeal with, and to ferment in.
That’s where my ideas come from. That’s why I read the strange things I love to read, knowing that even if I never consciously use what I read, it will still be down there, somewhere, becoming something else. Something that will one day come, willing or not, into words and light.
29) How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?
It comes up fairly often, as in several times a day. I could be thinking about details of a particular character either on the way to or coming back from my day job. I could think of a plot twist during a meeting. I could be trying to get to sleep when I start thinking of a setting, only to not be able to get to sleep because I want to think about it some more. It just keeps coming.
As far as In-Real-Life reminders of my writing… I want to say yes, because I’m sure it’s happened before, but I can’t summon any specifics right now.
(You know what? This ’30 Days’ thing is almost over, so I’m just gonna answer the last thing so I can move on to something different in this blog.)
30) Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!
Right. Imma taggin’ Eric Burns-White, who some of you may know as the guy behind Websnark. I first met Eric through our mutual Superguy connections, and as we both wrote for that list, I came to be more and more impressed with his storytelling skills, the clarity of his prose, and the depth of his characters. (Even moreso on rereading that material, ten years or so later–it stands up extremely well.) The projects he worked on after moving on from Superguy showed his tremendous worldbuilding ability–when I earlier, in answer to another question, admitted I needed to work on that aspect of my work, I was thinking of Eric’s skill at this as the thing to aspire to. He makes it look easy, even though we both know it ain’t!
(This ends the 30 Days of Writing. Please tip your waitress on the way out.)
12) In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?
I’ve in the past not been a disciplined worldbuilder, preferring to feel my way along as I write and see what falls out of my head over nailing things down ahead of time. This has sometimes worked well–in Brutal Light, my answer to this question–but oftentimes it has come back around to bite me, forcing significant additional revision time. I’m working on changing that in my upcoming projects–the short story sequence set in a remote jungle location on what may or may not be another world, for instance, is something I’m very aware I have to put a lot of extra pre-writing worldbuilding effort into. My next novel project, Minions, will also require some considerable forethought, though more of it will be left to ‘discovery.’
That said, I don’t think Brutal Light would have been as strong a novel if I’d tried to get things lined up right at the start. Some projects are just like that. In this case, it was the end result of years of thinking about stories like it, and iterations of working on previous attempts at novels and even some of my Superguy material. It had spent so much time incubating that, had I tried anything like formal worldbuilding, I might never have stopped, and might never have gotten around to writing the actual book.