Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time is a Trickster

Several days ago, during a few minutes of mindless day dreaming, a plot for a new novel popped into my head. I indulged myself, and thought about it for awhile. The genre is speculative fiction. The time is not too far in the future, and some troubles that we face today have played out in a rather bizarre way to create some whopping big problems for North America. (You realize that I am speaking in broad generalities here. I am not quite ready to share any plot details yet.)

This novel would precede another novel, working title Underground, which I have made a bit of a start on -- the first 25 pages. The trouble is, I thought up the idea for  Underground nearly 25 years ago, when my second child was a newborn. I scratched down a few notes and scenes at the time, then came back to it began writing it one year for NaNoWriMo when I was trying to avoid finishing my second novel, Memories of a White Girl.

I have written a complete first draft of Memories. I have given it to first readers. I have spent countless hours thinking about and writing notes for the revision of Memories. But I have scarcely begun the actual revision. I think the story has lots of potential. But it needs lots of revision before it is ready to go out anywhere.

Ironically, or perhaps typically, given my writing tendencies that I have just described to you, I started writing Memories in a week-long writing workshop ten years ago in order to avoid working on my then current novel, working title Friends. The first draft of that one was about three quarters finished, but I  became stuck trying to pull the the themes together into a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. I still love the characters and structure of Friends but haven't even finished the first draft, never mind the revisions.

So to summarize, over the last 25 years, I have reached different stages on four draft novels:
1989: plot for Underground and a few notes
2001-03: wrote most of first draft for Friends
2003: wrote 4 linked short stories, which I later reworked into novel chapters for Memories
2004-07: thought about Memories a lot but didn't write much
2007: added 50,000 words to Memories during NaNoWriMo
2008: plodded along adding small bits from time to time, then wrote another 30,000 words during NaNoWriMo. Finally finished the first draft, I forget when.
2010: returned to Underground idea and wrote a bit
2011: did a little revision and sent Memories to readers; wrote notes for more revisions
2013: idea for yet another novel

There's always time, right? The novel drafts will still be waiting for me when I finally have time for them, right?

Well maybe not. A dear colleague has developed a degenerative disease similar to Lou Gerig's disease, and his good mind is increasingly locked within his body as he loses the motor control to speak and type. A brother of a friend is struggling with an aggressive form of Parkinson's disease, recently diagnosed. Another colleague, who was a mentor to me and whom I deeply admired as a leader is having serious health problems of some undetermined cause, just when he should be enjoying his first years of retirement.

Sometimes there isn't all the time in the world. Time is a trickster who changes the rules.



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