Monday, November 10, 2008


I'm somewhere in the vicinity of 15k words now. Which puts me right at that stage when the shine starts to wear off my story. The realization dawns that as cool as it was in my head, all vague and swirly and brightly colored with lots of interesting characters and a few really awesome plot points to aim for, on paper it's plodding and pedantic and my characters don't do anything but talk in cliches and even *I* don't believe the rationale behind their actions. Not to mention I always tackle topics I know nothing about, without bothering to do any research. Last year, for example, I wrote a crime novel, despite knowing absolutely nothing about police procedures or court proceedings.

This year, I'm topping that by writing about brain science; about a future where memories can be eliminated. Yeah, very "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but to be fair, this is a topic I've tackled repeatedly since well before that movie came out. It's a subject that fascinates me because of the philosophical and moral questions that arise from it: can there really be experiences that only affect us in a negative way, or do we have the ability to learn something, to bring something positive from all experiences? How much of who we are comes from the sum total of experience, good and bad? Would it be wrong to eliminate almost all memories in order to start over, and if wrong, how wrong? And would we be the same people if we did, or something else entirely?

There's no way to answer these questions, but it's fun to play with them. At the same time, I'm really struggling just because it's all very complex: what would drive a person to do this? What kind of people would allow it and help them accomplish it? How would it affect their families and friends? And what about practical concerns: how would they establish a new identity from a legal standpoint if they completely started over? How would they make a living? In my own world, I can sort of make that up as I go along, but I'm feelin' a bit overwhelmed, and the story isn't the wonderful shiny thing I would like it to be.

But I'll keep plugging along, hoping I can polish it up in the next draft. I gotta keep repeating that to myself. Otherwise, I'm gonna go nuts. It's all very traumatizing. Maybe could do with some memory erasure myself.


mpclemens said...

Yeah, week 2 is the Week of Ugh. You know it, you know what waits beyond it. Just Keep Typing. We'll work on memory eradication so you don't have to remember the suffering that is this week.

Your story sounds interesting (yeah, I know, no pressure.) I'm wary of tipping my hand and talking to much about my ideas, because I don't want what little magic there is in them to evaporate before I get a chance to smack them onto paper where they will stay put.

I have to wonder what would happen if a memory-erasure process went wrong, or backwards (yeah, Eternal Sunshine again, I guess) -- someone being unable to remember certain things, or having blackouts, or whatever. Kind of like being suddenly colorblind, I guess.

Ignore me. For some reason, all my characters are having a rough go of it this year -- nightmares, being abandoned in the woods, and (soon) locked in a cave for decades with a giant magical typewriter and the unquiet spirits of the dead.

I'm a happy person, really!

Strikethru said...

I think there is something in the Chris Baty book about writing about topics you haven't researched, in that, trust that if you have the interest in a rewrite, you can fill in the factual accuracies after you're done.

Duffy Moon said...

In the eternal words of Cornelius Robinson:

Keep moving forward.

Make stuff up. Create lots of Unknown Mechanisms that do the brain thingies, then flesh them out later with actual science. Or don't. Either way, keep typing.