I’m not doing well this month at all. I’ve been delayed in getting my blogs up (typically I aim for Wednesdays and Saturdays) and even missing out on Wednesdays. I apologize for that. I wouldn’t mind so much a dry run on the blogs if I could make up for it by being incredibly productive with my new “Nevermore and the Ravens” collection (due out Halloween 2014). But no. Based on my own internal deadlines, I am very much behind having only completed two stories out of thirteen planned and only one song and absolutely no framing device. Ugh. I’ve started on three or four more stories and I keep thinking that if I just push myself surely I can complete these stories as well. But to no avail. I push and push and metaphorically just trip over myself. I find I cannot add one jot or tittle to the pieces of story as they stand. This is quite frustrating.
Apparently my Muse is just on vacation or something. I guess it is technically spring break, but the lack of inspiration is grating. I can’t even come up with clever blog entries. I am trying, but it all sounds sort of the same, like I’m just explaining the same point over and over and over again. While I do harp on my pet theories, I really don’t want to post entry after entry on the same thing. While I am occasionally deeply unobservant and/or clueless, even I know that would be boring. My goal is to write well and be entertaining. Boredom is one of those conditions I am actively attempting to avoid (with variable success). Overall, I ask your patience as I try to track down my errant Muse and get back to producing, well, anything. Yeah, anything at all would really be nice right now.
Since the future is not looking so bright I’ll have to wear shades, I’ll try retrospection. Is that a word? Well, it is now. So, retrospection. I may have mentioned before that while I am not nearly as organized as I would like to be, I do keep notes for my stories, including a timeline of the events in my two currently published collections (Necromancy for the Greater Good and Paranormal is Relative). This begs the question of why I jump around in time with my stories anyway. This is a good question and I’m glad I’m pretending someone actually asked me that. Is it because this is how I make up for the fact I would love to write time travel science fiction but find myself utterly unqualified and intimidated? No. That would be a much better answer.
I’ve said before that I’m not actually much of a fan of non-linear storytelling. I understand, narratively speaking, why a writer might choose to start a story in the middle or end and work backwards, or jump around through flashbacks and whatnot. But sometimes even I am lazy and I can get frustrated with trying to keep up on when events are taking place. And in bad non-linear storytelling, it can be really difficult to piece together the actual timeline (this came up in Man of Steel, actually) and even determine what is a flashback and what is ostensibly occurring now. Unfortunately, there is a lot of non-linear bad storytelling because non-linear storytelling is really hard. This is part of the reason I admire those who can tell those kinds of stories. But personally I prefer generally linear storytelling with possibly occasion flashbacks to help fill in some of the vital details that will be relevant to the plot soon.
So why, then, did I choose to write short stories that do not proceed in a linear fashion? The truth is I really didn’t consider the consequences at the time. Yeah, that’s all there is to it. It seemed like a good idea at the time and once I settled on that format, I feel obliged to keep it. This has probably made my life more difficult than it needed to be. The framing devices for the collections (the interviews that tie each story together) do proceed linearly. In “Necromancy” the band is discussing their first big hit. In “Paranormal” they’re discussing their second big hit. This third one will about their third album. But the stories themselves bounce around all over the place.
This does in some ways provide me with more freedom with the character development. If I want to write a story in which I think one of the characters is going to behave a more immature fashion, then I simply set the story earlier in the timeline so it makes sense for her to act that way. Likewise, if I want the characters to react in a more jaded rather than surprised fashion, I would set the story later in the timeline. However, I do have a lot of notes to keep track of. I need to make sure character development is consistent, I need to make sure the timelines don’t overlap (i.e., that the band isn’t involved in two events at once), and I need to make sure temporal references are correct (i.e., the band is involved in Event 22, which is similar to Event 16, so they reference Event 16; where I’ve already gotten in trouble with this is when Event 22 happens in “Nevermore” but Event 16 hasn’t been written yet, so after Event 16 is published in “Paranormal,” it produces a plothole in Event 22 because Event 16 wasn’t mentioned). And obviously the more stories I write the more careful I will have to be about this. I’m beginning to think my Muse is not only fickle but also sadistic.
These are the days when I wish writing was more a science than an art. Random inspiration can lead to really good work, but it can also lead to a tangled mess of notes and roadblocks to new stories. Okay, so far I haven’t found my timeline to be any limitation to a story I want to write, but it could be. It would be nice if there truly was a method to my madness instead of, well, “it seemed like a good idea at that time.” That phrase there is akin to “I had good intentions” and we all know where good intentions tend to lead. Assuming I get inspired to write again. I supposed I’d better go track down my Muse and give her a good talking-to about abandoning me in my time of need. Which, to be fair, is all the time, because as a writer I need to produce…something…anything… I suppose this counts, but I can do better, and I can do more. Now, if I were a fickle writer’s Muse, where would I run off to for vacation? Hmm…