Let’s review why I write stuff down in the first place: I don’t seem to have a choice. Story ideas come up and appear to take on a life of their own. I can hear a line from a song, or someone makes an odd turn of phrase, or I happen to be drifting off to sleep and something appears out of whole cloth. Who knows? But once the idea comes, it demands to be expressed. In some cases, I just let it simmer in my head for a while until it gets some coherency to it. Other times, I get so overwhelmed with the concept, I HAVE to start writing immediately. I currently have three other novels, two short stories and a screen play in the beginning stages. A couple of the novels may never see the light of day because of copyright issues (one is from a very old TV series, and the other is a crossover between two other fairly current series.), but they cry out to be expressed. If I never make a dime with my writing, I have the satisfaction of having gotten the ideas and concepts on paper; and I have the sure knowledge that the characters in the stories will appreciate being brought out into the open. My head gets kind of murky at times.
With my current original attempt, “Keel Hauled”, it started with a fairly odd concept of interstellar travel. I sat with that for a few days and started to get ideas in snapshot form. Conversations between crewmembers or plot twists in a plot that didn’t even exist at the time. It was kind of like putting together a puzzle; you get chunks of pieces together and lay out those chunks where you think they should go. It’s sometimes surprising how the middle of the story can become the beginning, and the ending come out of nowhere.
I have often written myself into a corner and then discovered what one of the characters was thinking. That would put me on a new path and change things around drastically. That’s something else I realized; I don’t write a story. The characters that inhabit the story are just telling me what’s going on. I have to interpret their situations, reconstruct the dialogue and lay it out logically. I sometimes feel more like a construction worker than a writer. I find it hard to make a character do something that seems out of, well, character for the character.
All of this to say, I write because I love to write. The joy that comes from expressing myself this way is incredible. Like anyone laboring over a project, there is a sense of accomplishment.
D. D. Tannenbaum