So I try to always have three projects running at once: one is being written, one is being revised, and one is in pre-write. Pre-write is sometimes code for obesessively thinking about the story, but there’s usually an element of research involved.
And oh, right now? Right now I’m loving the shit out of my research.
(Full disclosure: I’m a fuckin’ nerd. I pretty much always fall in love with research.)
I have this idea for another serial. And right now, in the glorious early stages of it, I don’t even have to know my characters that well (though I’m starting to). I don’t have to know where they live (though I do). I only have to have a vague idea about the three big beats I want to hit (which I think of as “pivot”, “midpoint” and “climax”, even though it’s a bit more complex than that by the time I start writing).
Right now I just need a tiny little seed of an idea.
Let’s talk about flowers.
I fucking love a writer called Loren Eiseley. Like stupidly. Like I swoon for some of his essays as if they’re a conversation we’re having. (And he was a great scientist, even though some of his theory stuff has since been disproved *cough* Boskops Man *cough*.) He’s got a piece called “How Flowers Changed the World” that I used to read to my niece every night, and in it he talks about plants and reproducing. (I know, you’re totally thrilled and are rushing to Amazon to buy his books right now.)
Flowering plants changed everything. Why? Because of their seeds. Because they had these seeds that could ride on the wind or water or birdshit, travel far and wide. Because their seeds contained enough food to get the new plant growing.
Thus, the metaphor, which I use quite consciously: this story right now is a seed, maybe (maybe) a seedling, little green shoot just starting to part the soil. I know it’s there, and I know it has enough juice to become a full-fledged plant, but there’s something I love about this stage, the early stage, the part before I fully commit, when it’s all just hope and potential.
And the way I feed the seed? Research, baby. Sweet, sweet research.
So, this serial, if I pull it off, will be a fundraising serial. I’m not gonna go into the whole shebang at the moment–I’m not prepared yet, because “how to run book sales as donations” is a whole different kind of research–but the absolutely amazing thing I get to do right now is research training. On bikes. For AIDS/LifeCycle.
What’s that? You want a link. But of course, please go directly to AIDSLifeCycle.org!
A friend of mine did this ride a couple years ago, and I was fucking awed by it. I knew I’d eventually write something with a long charity ride in it, but doing it as a serial may be the greatest idea I’ve ever had. Why? Well, because I can time the episodes to be released right alongside actual training for the ride. I mean, this will mean nothing to folks who read that book once it’s all out, but it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun for people reading along with the ride. (Do I think it’s a good idea to release an episode a day for the seven day ride? No. Am I gonna do it anyway? I don’t know, but it sounds like fucking fun to me.)
Also, lads, the serials wig me out a bit. I might post each of these for free on the blog for twenty-four hours before they’re released on Amazon. To assuage my guilt, if nothing else. (Yes, I know, I should really get over feeling guilty for charging money for fiction. Especially considering my ultimate goal is to quit the day job.) That’s a thought I have. It’d also be awesome for folks who don’t want to read on a Kindle app. Not sure. We shall see.
So in any case, I’m doing a lot of blog reading, following folks through months of training for ALC, and it’s freaking fantastic. Man. I might have to do this ride someday, when I have the money and the time (and the kid’s old enough). Because fucking hell, this shit is inspiring.
So yeah, I’m in love. With these stories, with the idea that physical change, mental change, and–should you choose to indulge me–spiritual change can all march hand-in-hand. I love transformation stories. I can’t fucking wait to write this one. I think it’ll follow along with Red and Bad with alternating perspectives, which mean I get two write two characters transforming while on this journey, and oh fucking boy, I’m pretty stoked.