I have so far made three attempts to compose a work of fiction. Four, if you count that one I worked on for a couple of weeks in 2013 and then quickly abandoned. All of them were set either on another planet or in some kind of alternate reality, and I didn’t finish any of them. This particular genre is evidently a lot more difficult to write in than most people realize. It helps to adhere to a few guidelines of some type or another.
In addition to Kurt Vonnegut’s ever-useful eight rules of short story writing which I elaborated on earlier, I’d like to add two other rules of my own that I’m presently applying to my fourth (fifth?) literary attempt. The more practical writing experience I get, the more I realize how important these guidelines are. Especially in the speculative fiction genres, where the temptation is always there to go nuts with the worldbuilding.
The stated goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is to compose a novel of fifty thousand words or more in the thirty days that comprise the month of November. I only managed about a tenth of that word count, and it’s more like a lone chapter than a complete novel. If I was unemployed and it wasn’t winter, this would be a lot easier. The majority of my writing is done in the morning, and ’tis the season when I necessarily must give up about twenty minutes of precious writing time to scrape off that small glacier on the windshield that formed the night before. Considerably more words were committed to the sheet on those days when I didn’t have to worry about putting on pants or leaving the house, but I only get two such days a week.
On precisely one of those thirty mornings, Black Betty’s keyboard mysteriously stopped working. Found myself having to spend a good chunk of what should’ve been a semi-productive writing session reinstalling the driver (a process which requires at least one reboot), logging in using her hitherto-never-used onscreen keyboard. Managed to fix the problem in the end, but somewhere along the way I learned I’d never want to write a whole novel using that onscreen keyboard. At least not on a device that has no touchscreen. Even with one of those newfangled touchpads that recognizes all the usual tablet gestures, you’re still pretty much forced to hunt and peck.
So I didn’t get anywhere near the prescribed fifty thousand words. No big whoop. They don’t hand out prizes for this thing; it’s not like I would have won a billion dollars had I surpassed the threshold. I certainly don’t consider this NaNoWriMo experience a failure, for what I did produce that month is something I can continue to plod away at for months to come. It’s the beginnings of something like a parallel story to my previous work in progress, set in the same universe. With several characters and plot devices tweaked. A different narrative point of view as well. Which I’ll elaborate on later.
My next literary project is shaping up to be a rehashing of my previous work in progress, but from a very different angle. I’ve already got an idea as to the general narrative trajectory of the first several chapters; banging out a rough skeleton of that sounds like a swell NaNoWriMo project. The finished product most certainly won’t be called SILVER BROWN, hence the reason why the title of this site had to change. A new mascot was in order as well. For the first three years of its existence, this site’s visual branding was centered around the image of the Aardvark…
However, this mascot was a character from my previous work in progress — a Big Brother-like entity who I can’t see being part of the new book, outside of maybe one or two passing mentions uttered by gushing admirers. So I ditched him.
The Aardvark glyph was something I doodled up one afternoon about five years ago, on some app-within-a-website that allowed anyone with the knowhow (and those willing to acquire same from the school of hard knocks) to create their own vector graphics in a cloud-based environment. A website that doesn’t exist anymore, I’m pretty sure of it. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles of a professional-grade program; the whole point of it all was that it be easy enough for complete novices to get their hands dirty learning the basics of the art. As a poor man’s Adobe Illustrator, it fit the bill for me just fine at the time. But with the rich man’s Adobe Illustrator, you can really go nuts…
I initially started working on this graphic with the idea that it would be a visual representation of all five senses expressed as a single entity, but somewhere along the way it ended up taking on a life of its own. Looking like the result of a discreet encounter Grimace once had with Miss Piggy in a pet cemetery of the damned, located in the same eldritch Cthulhuvian alternate universe that begat antivaxxers and pumpkin spice. Utterly horrifying, but in a way that’s kind of the point. I might actually use this entity as a character in the new book. It would make a smashing corporate executive.
There’s no name for this thing yet. I just call it The Entity. I imagine its true name unpronounceable by human vocal chords; the closest approximation would cast a spell if uttered aloud, summoning an ever-agitated fireant colony to materialize in the speaker’s butthole. During certain times of the year, I might depict it wearing festive hats.