Jay Lake: Writer

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[writing|process] Once more with the diving board

I’ve commented before that for me, writing often feels like jumping off a high diving board and filling the pool on the way down. The more substantial the project, the more I tend to experience this sensation. Which means sometimes there’s a pause for breath before I step off the edge into space.

I’d committed to myself to start writing Original Destiny, Manifest Sin this month. That’s my Old West alternate history fantasy. So what did I do Monday? Two hours of critique, batting clean-up on the recent Writer’s Digest University online workshop in which I participated. What did I do on Tuesday? Spent ninety minutes reading first drafts of some of the stories for METAtropolis 3: Green Space, the audiobook project I am co-editing with [info]kenscholes for Audible.com. Both of these were necessary and timely Writing Related Program Activities which resulted in zero effort being put in on Original Destiny, Manifest Sin.

(In case you’re wondering what I did with the rest of my time these past two days, recall that I have a full-time job, a teenager in the house, and late stage metastatic colon cancer. I keep busy.)

So today I am stepping off the board. As almost 100 pages of Original Destiny, Manifest Sin exists from my first, aborted effort to write the book most of a decade ago, I’m going to start by re-reading that. I need the characters and more importantly the setting to reinhabit my head.

One of the real challenges of this novel is that it is driven by plot and setting. There are multiple viewpoints with no strong central protagonist. That undermines opportunities for reader identification and can cause problems with the through-line. I think I know how to resolve this, based on input from Howard Waldrop and Maureen McHugh at Rio Hondo a few years back.

And, well, if I’m ever going to write it, now would be the time. I expect to be seriously ill with cancer treatments again in either June or August, and I don’t expect to ever recover from that once I go down that road again. Essentially, unless I get unexpectedly lucky along the way, I have one last time window in which to write this novel. Or any novel.

So once more with the diving board. Today, I jump. Likely no word count today, as reading and making notes will almost certainly occupy as much time as I have available (if not more). Still, I am stepping back into my own personal once upon a time in the West.

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