HANGING BY OUR COMPUTER IS a sheet of paper I look to for inspiration. Sometimes it inspires me, sometimes it depresses me, but always it gets me back on the horse. It’s called “Why (and How) We Write.” If you too find it useful, please hang it by your computer.
1. Do it for the buzz.
— Stephen King
2. Finish what you start. Keep submitting until it sells.
— Robert Heinlein
3. a) Fanaticize yourself
b) Fanaticize something greater than yourself
c) “Sheer delight in what you are doing.”
— Robert Anton Wilson
4. a) Arrange events in linear order
b) Now arrange them in narrative order.
c) Write the story.
d) Revise the story.
— H. P. Lovecraft
5. “Most of the characteristics which make for success in writing are precisely those which we are all taught to repress … the firm belief that you are an important person, that you are a lot smarter than most people, and that your ideas are so damned important that everybody should listen to you.”
— Robert Anton Wilson, reprise
AS NOTED EARLIER, THIS BLOG will feature periodic updates on my new Work In Progress, Under Oasine: the adventures of Twiz, Ij, Hapler, and the author as they pursue a desperate quest to save their world.
(I want to bang out a first draft of the entire novel on the thousand-words-a-day plan before I polish (and post) the first two chapters, while (partly to motivate myself, and partly to come down off the inCREDible buzz one gets from making up and banging out a thousand words a day) posting occasional synopses.)
Thus: With 4,000 of an estimated 50-70,000 words in the bag, our heroes have reached the end of the first chapter, wherein we are briefly introduced to the world of Oasine and its inhabitants. The planet is one big desert from pole to pole, orbiting a big red star; life evolved late in its history, and only around scattered oases of various sizes. Some are connected by caravans, but in the oasis of Fint one man wants to prove they’re also connected by water.
Twiz Beelan and his best friend Ij have talked Hapler the podgrower into growing a mobile pod big enough for two, stocked with everything needed to withstand a two-day journey to the neighboring oasis — assuming that Twiz’s theory is more than just a crazy dream. The big day arrives, the Deeper is set for its maiden voyage, when disaster strikes! and the pod sinks into watery darkness!
Apparently stranded, the three work out a desperate plan. Soon they are heading surfaceward once more — but when they break water, Fint is nowhere to be seen.
Reaction: Novels are very, very different in process from short stories. My reporter training makes short stories a natural medium — clean, concise, pointed — but something as big as a novel? With multiple characters, viewpoints, subplots, etc.? It’s really hard, as all writing is hard, only more so.
But it’s also fun. I’m using the ol’ index-cards-for-every-chapter-character-and-setting method of organizing my notes and keeping track of new ideas. (Annie Lamott’s first draft advice from “Bird by Bird” is very helpful too.) This is also entirely different from the Prosatio Silban pieces in another way: this isn’t a world I’ve been working on since 1978 in my scrap time, but something which came to me idly drawing (now worries, no spoilers): “What if there’s a world called Oasine, populated only around its separate oases but linked by the water beneath them? And what happens if somebody goes under Oasine?”
And remember; Just because I’m writing it, doesn’t necessarily mean I know what’s going to happen next. I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I do.