A funny thing happened this writing week. Around the midpoint of the story there's an extended scene that really bothered me when I wrote it. Something was wrong with the motivations of the secondary characters in the scene, and my protagonist essentially got away with something important in a manner which didn't make sense either within the story's internal narrative continuity or from an external plot-and-structure perspective. I flagged it for attention on rewrite, and even remarked upon the problem to several people.
Well, a day or two ago, while writing, five or six thousand words deeper into the manuscript, the reason for the problem in the earlier scene presented itself in a manner which also tied up some threads from the previous two METAtropolis. Everything made sense in retrospect. What had felt like a pushover at the time turned out to be a set-up, and well justified in terms of the larger story arc. Fred, my writing mind, had been way the heck ahead me of the whole time.
I love moments like that.
From a purely craft perspective, writing on chemo is always strange. My writing brain is asleep at least half the time, if not more. That means when I pick up the draft again, I'm not in the straight through flow state I often achieve when writing short fiction. It makes the project more like a novel, from a craft point of view, in that the writing process is more interrupted and acontinuous. I have to rely heavily on written notes and rereading earlier sections to make sure I've got the voice right, the information reveals going on in the right order, a decent amount of character continuity, and so forth. More work spread out over less time plays merry hell with my productivity.
I am sad that this is probably the last piece of fiction I'll write before next May or June at the earliest. I may sneak in one or two much shorter stories before my brain evaporates, but I'm damned close now. And there might be a window of opportunity in January around my surgery break, depending on quickly and how well I bounce back from the chemo.
For now, I'm fairly pleased with this one.
Meanwhile, a little bit of WIP:
“Nice view, huh?” said Bibendum, his voice crackling over a dedicated suit-to-suit channel as he towed the both of them through empty space with a little powered sled to which the suits were closely tethered.
“You’re orbit-born, aren’t you?” Bashar asked, confirming an earlier thought. How had he gone all his life without ever seeing this view in person?
The kid replied in a disgusted tone. “You think they’d bother to lift someone like me out of the gravity well?”
“Is everyone up here like you?”
“No.” Then reluctantly: “I have Yonami syndrome. It’s a genetic disorder that’s unrelated to being conceived or gestated in orbit. One or more of my grandparents got into some pretty toxic stuff. I also have friable bones, from growing up here. I can never go down the gravity well. Not if I want to keep on living.” That sounded like a rehearsed speech.
Bashar could almost feel sorry for the kid. At least, he would have if Bibendum weren’t neck deep in trying to murder a million people on Bashar’s own home turf.