Saturday, May 26, 2012
Do I have any WIPs?
As I attempted to write a comment on a post on Catana's blog "Tracking the Words," I decided her topic "WIPs and Productivity" would make a good basis for a blog post of my own. She describes a method of writing where the author keeps a backlog of story ideas, outlines, and beginnings and draws on that whenever she gets burned out on the current opus. As usual I seemed to be the odd person out because this isn't how I work at all. In the first place, I'm not a good multitasker -- I start something and I finish it before I go on the next thing. I can't really pay attention to more than one story at once. And then for about 12 years I wrote without any intention whatsoever of publishing -- I wrote just because I loved what I was writing. So I have this big backlog of stuff ready or nearly ready to commit to print (next up -- "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head," which I've decided to turn into 6 volumes in order to avoid publishing another weighty tome like v.2 of "The Termite Queen." On that subject see my second blog, which is being dedicated to the "Labors" series).
But I've decided that I do have WIPs -- I just never called them that. I have notes for an essential concluding novel in the "Labors" series, and I have separate documents of Story Notes for two other works. One will be called "The Dark Leopards of the Moon" (quoted from a poem by W.B. Years, fortunately in the public domain); this narrates later events in the life of Kaitrin Oliva and uses "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" as a centerpiece. The other picks up a minor character from "Termite Queen" and details that character's life, particularly as it relates to Kaitrin Oliva. It's to be called "The Hard, Bright Crystal of Being," from an poem by Conrad Aiken that unfortunately is under copyright, so if I use that title, I may have to work on one more permission (groan!)
And then I have a catch-all document called "Story Notes -- Proposed Tales," which includes ideas for a piece about the culture of the termite people (the Shshi) 2000 years into the future, when they have developed technology and are about ready to take to space themselves. Another story would retell "Huckleberry Finn" with Shshi characters. Then I had a vague idea about a device that records dreams holographically and allows people to enter parallel universes through those holograms, like a portal (I may never write that one -- sounds too much like "The Lathe of Heaven" and possibly other creative pieces I've run into.) The most important story is about the author of the Mythmaker drama "The Valley of the White Bear" that's mentioned in TQ; it would be my only dystopian novel and would make it necessary for me to actually write that drama. That would be tough because "The White Bear" is supposed to be one of the greatest and most influential pieces of literature ever written and I don't know if I'm up to that task!
And then there is a wickedly satiric and rather ambitious treatment of Old and New Testament myth, in which a race of "gods" (intelligences so enormous that a galaxy is like handful of dust to them) uses the multiverses as an experimental laboratory. I actually wrote a rather obscure short story on this theme; it took off when I read an article on the snowball Earth theory of the Cambrian explosion (I might publish that story on this blog sometime; it's called "A Little Laboratory Work").
The long treatment has a working title; it comes from Exodus 33:23 (KJV), where God hides Moses in a rock and covers Moses with his hand as he passes by, because no man can look upon the face of God and live -- "And I will take away mine hand and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen.” So I was thinking of entitling my satiric treatment "The Back Parts of God." Boy, will I get in trouble! By the way, I looked at the translation in the website called Hebrew Bible in English and the translation reads as follows: “I will take away my hand and thou shalt see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” A good bit more dignified, but it loses a little bit of its humorous potential! Probably the term "back parts" didn't carry the same suggestiveness in the 17th century as it does today!