Thursday, May 09, 2024

The End of the Affair

 Yesterday, 14 months after its inception, I finished the final draft of a new novel. It's called Loss Protocol. A fantasy novel about the perils of misusing fantasies, set a few decades ahead. An Anthropocene novel that breaks one of Elmore Leonard's (partly tongue-in-cheek) writing rules by beginning with the weather. But the weather is omnipresent, now.  And the one thing we know about the future is that the weather will be bad and crazy and will keep getting worse  for the rest of the century, and almost certainly for centuries to come, along with everything else driven awry by global heating and the thinning of the biosphere and the general trashing of the planet. And since Loss Protocol is also about the worldgrief many of us feel, as well as several kinds of personal grief, I wanted to put the weird things the weather is doing and will continue to right at the beginning.

I began by saying that this one took 14 months to write, but I started a novel by the same name two months earlier, and quickly gave up on it because although the character was interesting, the story wasn't, especially. It was too transparent, held none of the inner mystery that informs everything without necessarily ever being revealed. So although that aborted attempt shared a couple of themes with Loss Protocol, nothing of it remains. I don't write long-running series and am blessed or cursed with the need to keep trying something new, something different. Every novel presents different problems to solve. The only thing I really know is that I've done this trick before, and if I keep going day after week after month, as long as I can get to the hinge-point where everything seems to move of its own volution towards an ending, I can finish the current work-in-progress before it finishes me.

Although, of course, it isn't finished. Story and scenes and themes and variations are in place, but there's still work to do. It's kind of like the production of a high-end fashion garment. The concept has been sketched, materials have been chosen and cut and shaped and gathered and stitiched, but there are still many microadjustments needed before it's a perfect fit. And so here. The manuscript needs to be read through and tweaks made at sentence level, so the meaning of each one is plain and each one builds on what's gone before. I have to persuade my agent that it's worthwhile, he has to persuade my editor, and my editor has to make its case to sales and marketing. And after that, there's the post-editing rewriting, and copy-editing, and proofing. So the affair is far from over, and yet, as far as all the heavy lifting is concerned, it is.


Newer Posts Older Posts