Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The book I shouldn't be writing

Oh, I can almost hear the internet grown under the weight of yet another writer posting about their process/journey.

I started writing a book. Then because it wasn't working out, I sort of waffled around and stopped. Yeah, I know real original, right? Well it happens to everyone. I posted a little while back on why my projects stall out, and by rights, that should be that, right? Write the book or move on. But for some reason neither answer seemed to work for me. I really felt like I had this book buried in me, somewhere.

I needed to read about ten books before I wrote it (seriously, there’s been some awesome writing in this category in the past, and I don’t want to walk on people’s toes). You’d think that I’d put those ten books right at the top of my list, but nope, I've just procrastinated away. I thought maybe it was because I wasn't getting it, or that I couldn't do military science fiction any more. Then it hit me, those books were exactly the kind of book I don't write: deep, dark, serious, heavy on the science, and all about the trials of war.

Now, considering that I was planning to also write a book about war, it’s a genre I should be cool with. And at some point I was, but nowadays, I need my horror of war mixed liberally with a side of ironic humor. Which is my problem. I loved the concept of the deep, poetic, novel about the choices given to the lowest class of citizen (rogue AI) in the time of interstellar war to determine the continued existence of humanity. It was going to be about sacrifice and finding our places in the universe (even if you are a rogue AI based off the memories of a teenage girl).

Turns out, I’m not that deep.

I couldn’t stand writing from the angsty position of the downtrodden AI. There wasn’t enough conflict. There was no humor. Now, it might come as a shock, but I think humor is the way to go. When my family comes into crisis, it’s like the world stops turning. Then out of the darkness, someone cracks a joke, and we can somehow move on. It’s a thing of magic, the strength of humor. There we all are, thinking the worst thoughts, paralyzed by the sheer tragedy of the situation, and then someone kicks it out into the realm of funny. That’s the moment everyone talks about, laugh or cry. My family has always laughed, sometimes while we’re still crying, but we always laugh. So I need humor.

And as such I’ve started a new project. It should be about the strength of humor and how it saves lives and brings us to a new understanding of our place in the universe. My novel should be about the strength and perseverance of the human race in the face of certain tragedy.

But I’m still not that deep.

This is the semester I plan to defend my big, serious, deep dissertation of doom. I need something a little less “greatness of humanity” and a bit more Sailor Moon with a box of bon bons. So here it is, I’m announcing my newest Work In Progress:

Midlife Super Crisis

It’s knights of the round table meet Green Lanterns (minus the smurfs) plus one sleep-deprived mother of two. As soon as she gets the kids to bed, it’s time to save the multiverse.

Do I think this is salable? Oh hell no. Do I care? Nope. See, I know about the zeit geist, and I’m telling you, this concept—the whole middle aged person finally coming into their superpowers—is about to sweep through the world, so I already know it’s doomed as a project. I’m cool with that, and it takes the pressure off (and I really have enough pressure with the whole Pass This Exam or Leave In Shame thing coming up). Writing for fun is supposed to make me a better person (read: better writer). Besides, writing it is like dipping chocolate in chocolate, then chasing it with chocolate and red wine. Guilty pleasure.

Mmmm chocolate…

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