Generating Ideas is the Most Fun I have All Day

 

The plan for my next book is underway. Planning is the most fun thing about the creative process. Ideas trickle in from everything going on around you and in your head. Somehow this all comes together to make a cohesive story. The first mental draft and that point where the words flow almost on their own are the other times that writing feels like something that shouldn’t be possible. How can anything be this fun?

 

Creating the character profiles comes before any plot construction. Characterization is something I like a lot, reducing a character to a deceptively simple phrase that means almost nothing if the character isn’t from your mind. The journey is more important than the destination, but the destination still means something.

 

The story is a generational ship. Watching Star Trek: Voyager, the term generational ship sounded like the holy grail of space travel. I started to wonder why a generational ship wasn’t something that appeared more in science fiction. It then, started to make sense. Basing a story on a revolving cast of characters can get confusing and doesn’t work well. The author builds a character that the reader is invested in then that character is dumped. Roots by Alex Haley is a good example of that. The book became exceedingly long and a little difficult for me to keep the characters clearly defined.

 

Long term space travel is frequently framed in the context of cryogenic preservation. The character sleeps from point A to point B. It works well from the story standpoint. A boring journey goes away with that addition. I don’t believe cryogenic sleep is possible. What about that frog that freezes solid and thaws out still alive, you ask? Cryoprotectants or a special chemical saves the tissues from ice damage. These frogs are so different from humans. Most likely this method can’t be used with warm-blooded animals. Frogs don’t regulate their internal temperatures unlike humans. That’s out for me.

 

The problem with a generational ship is the revolving set of character. Making the same character survive the duration fixes this sticking point. Immortality or something close. Something close to reincarnation is what I came up with. The mind survives through a succession of cloned bodies. In effect the ship’s crew is immortal for as long as they are traveling through the depths of interstellar space. The current plan is a 2,000 years journey spanning three galaxies. At the end, when the story takes place, the crew have an unmatched breadth and depth of experience and there’s more to come. Four characters POV’s will be artfully blended.

 

What happens over 2,000 years? Human bodies are changed to be more representing of all the creatures of Earth and more human. UV sensing eyes, melanin variable skin based on UV exposure, telepathy, compassionate, and a few other more complicated things. What changes mentally for an immortal? Personality differences are amplified along with an increased appreciation for other points of view. Basically a more enlightened human or hyper-human. Each person behaves slightly different the longer they have been around. Add that to my unique execution and the sequel to Remember is born.

 

I’m planning to write one character all the way through and then do the same for each character. There is some loose connection between three of the characters in Remember and the sequel. For the sake of brevity their names are Inslee, Dominic, and Sloane. Then there’s Dominic and Sloane’s son, Duncan. I might eventually change Duncan to a young woman, we’ll see. Woman are generally easier for me to write. I’ll give you a quick description of each character later.

 

GK

subscribe button

Thriving in Spite of Reduced Ability

 

Throughout my life, a few things have remained the same. I have Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscular disease that slowly weakens me. This results in a lose of ability over time.

 

I have found things that are inherently impossible for me now. Walking is an example of that. Everything else is possible with motivation and hope of getting better. Those are the two things required to be the person you want to be.

In the beginning of my life (before age eight), I knew there was something different about me and didn’t quite know why. Firstly, I started using a wheelchair. The issue of my emigration from India provided another possible source for my differences. Some version of this probably went through minds of other kids about themselves. Everything changed a little after understanding this wasn’t the end of my difference, things would surely get worse.

 

Let’s be clear about something, I never thought of myself as disabled or damaged. I am just different, like a person with green eyes is different from a person with brown eyes. Never allow another person to define what and how you can do anything. Living without a hindrances is a great gift, but beating what everyone thinks is a greater reward. As with all things, the more effort employed, the better the outcome. This way of thinking changes your perception of yourself. You know for a fact that you are not less able than anyone else. Never put artificial limits on yourself.

 

I have never attended a support group. Almost everything I’ve gone through deals with itself, apart from the first near death experience. This isn’t an ongoing struggle. This is who I am or who I always was. Nothing that comes your way is beyond your ability to cope, whether that means sharing your story with others or dealing with it in your own way.

 

This brings me to my experiences with other kids when I was also that age. Every year throughout high school, I along with other kids struggling with purely physical differences attended a gathering. You know the almost forced gatherings setup by well-meaning adults for discussion.

 

We were asked questions to setup conversation, so-called icebreakers. Would you take a cure if it was available? This is one I remember well. The majority answer was no, excluding myself and one other among the 50 or so others. My reaction to the majority sounds in my head. Why? The answers went something like this: it would change who I am.

 

I reacted with silent cynicism and confusion. This makes no sense. A cure isn’t retroactive (someone won’t go back in time and cure you at birth, anyway that would make a cure much easier). How can you possibly refuse the cure when it is almost my deepest desire? Then it hit me. My 15-year-old self thought they simply can’t hope because the low likelihood hurts them too much. It helps them cope. The disease is an ingredient of who they are. If the question wasn’t hypothetical, they would stop lying to themselves and say yes. That was what a teenager would think. I stopped bothering with other people as I grew older.

 

I now think a cure just administers physical improvement, keeping you the same person inside. If the cure would change more than that, the disease has too much power. That is the generally accepted conclusion, a really bad disease limits what opportunities that person has. I admit that without Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, I would have a different job, but I don’t think my personality would have changed that much. I would be more social than I am now, but isn’t that a good thing? Limitations are a bad thing. Never cripple yourself without trying. A battle that is lost in the mind, is pointless to fight.

 

This post is getting a little too long for one day (hands tired). The key lies in finding your purpose. Take what qualities you have. In my case that is a fighter personality, maximum effort yields maximum results, observation of everything, railing to challenges, and keen memory. Find what you are supposed to do. I am supposed to push through the expectations of others, show them they can do great things, and show them what I can accomplish. Never give up or die trying.

 

GK

subscribe button

Inspiration for a Novel: Frustration with Science Fiction

Remember started as a novel written just for me, addressing my issues with most fiction published today. Every science fiction novel or tv show I’ve seen except with the notable exceptions, has elements that are easily disproved. For example, electricity can’t reanimate that dead but does kill the living. Reanimation requires a few things. The reverse of everything that happens after death. First stop decay by somehow sterilizing the body (probably take a few pages to describe everything rationally needed). Remember features details not easily dismissed without field specific education or research.

The shallowness of most fiction. I find it extremely difficult to reread or rewatch almost any content. My memory precludes anything except fictional worlds that appeal to my sense of aesthetic. The repeat experience usually lends no new insights except in rare cases such as The Life of Pi, The Matrix films, Mission Impossible (the first movie), and maybe Inception. Remember is a novel that shows something new with almost every read. My writing opens itself to multiple interpretations based on the reader’s perception and point of view, but still with a clear ending.

The experience of the protagonist doesn’t match well with the reader’s experience. If the protagonist is confused, shouldn’t the reader be just as confused The protagonist forgets the past, but the reader knows what happened. The numb feeling after killing someone. The listing of emotions without the effect apparent. Remember shows everything, usually before saying anything explicit about the situation.

Throughout the revision several changes took place, namely the transition from passive to active verbs. A good portion of the writing was removed to focus the novel further in the best direction. Trimming unnecessary sentences and redundancies helped along the way. A two month break highlighted issues with flow and rhythm. Everything led to the finished Remember, or so I thought. A beta reader found a lot of small errors. I’m writing another book before digging out those errors.

Remember needs work. That’ll probably happen over the next six months.

This is the back description as it stands now.

Conor Abby’s life as a research scientist disintegrates with the murder of Irena Mekova, the second closet person to him in this world of 2417. His life was complicated enough after a brain damaging vehicle accident. Working for a clandestine organization doesn’t help matters. A relapse of retrograde amnesia leaves the truth of what really happened locked away somewhere in his mind, if only he can Remember. Are their suspicions true? Did Conor murder Irena? Why can’t he remember?

Stay tuned.

subscribe button

Inception of Remember, a First Novel

 

Remember basically reduces to an internal struggle against slow and complete corruption, until escaping the hands of these corrupters. This central conflict works best considering the other options. A protagonist versus antagonist battle doesn’t reflect much of daily experience away for the criminal justice system, military service, politics, and criminal element. The ability to justly exert force over the antagonist feeds too much into existing works. The rivalry between two people competing isn’t something I’ve read but enjoy on the silver screen.

 

The struggle of protagonist against the environment reminds me of long-haul fishermen, Ernest Shackleton, and movies (not many books yet). Not something I want more of from writing. The stories that really interest me end up protagonist versus self, psychological thrillers. Remember has always been a book focused first on something I want to read then adapted to the masses. My existence omits most kinds of physicality, let alone physical or environmental conflict. The psychological conflict is more familiar to the majority of possible readers from experiences with body image and lifestyle. The need to change something but not always the ability or motivation to do so. Examples include prevention of type II diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. That is what I settled on.

 

The title of Remember means two possible things in my mind. The protagonist, Conor goes through a verification procedure for his murder conviction, involuted by a memory erasure and recovery process. This works on the principle of removing a majority of the ego, stripping away the entirety of the super-ego, and leaving just the id or complete innocence. In this state, anything remembered comes through as honestly as possible. As remembered memories return, I posit they feel less immediate (something remembered from a movie or book, not something from firsthand experience). Toss this to the fact that memories incorporated after the fact lack the full emotional and adrenal force accompanying events happening right now. This effect dissipates over time. People going through this procedure recount events freely and openly.

 

Remember also means remember what love is if a parallel storyline enters consideration, the one between Conor and Claire. In popular culture, the idea of love just means a few complications. One partner says it and the other partner wrestles their emotions until the decision falls out. Relationships are constructed into fragile, mercurial, ghostlike objects for the most tension, impact, and uncertainty. Love isn’t sex. Love isn’t physical. Love isn’t desire. Love isn’t vengeance. Love isn’t selfish. Love is connection. Love is psychological. Love is need. Love is forgiveness. Love is wanting the best for someone else without regard for self. Remember that.

 

Remember experiments with the idea of duplicity, showing one side to everyone and hiding your true self away (everybody does it to some degree). Agent 7429 must be someone close Conor, but we aren’t sure who. The clues dribble out, while Claire (Agent 7429) lies at every turn, masking her true self. Dr. Mekova plays the role of pitiable victim until the clandestine meeting where she makes a compelling oratory about Conor’s situation and alludes to possible reason, from her point of view as a member of a “terrorist group”. These double identities present a criticism of the axiom “perception is reality”, which means how others view a person determines what that person is to them. This makes sense and works to some extent, but is it the best way? Those of us plagued by shyness at some point or cynical of the way things are view this as rewarding the sycophants and refusing the hard workers. In truth, external validation means nothing beyond material gains so valued by society. Personal equity comes from internal validation. Countless studies agree that monetary gains don’t equate to happiness. In Remember, this duplicity puts the duplicitous in a position whereby they need the forgiveness or trust of others, now hard to come by.

 

The idea that dreams have importance permeates the text of Remember.  The memory therapy works by recovering lost information through dreams. This is an extension of the way dreams incorporate memories and events from everyday life; we just can’t control them well enough, yet. In other places, dreams affect daily life by influencing decision making. Take the choice to accept the “offer” from the Division (his employers). A dream just a few days before mused the opportunities and risks of this choice. The possible control of dreams shows ambivalence towards who is really in control. Each dream throughout features meaning.

 

Each part, chapter, and segment focuses on a central theme. The chapter titled Romanticism places importance on what the author feels than anything else. It contains the conversation about the end of Claire’s relationship and the dream about blowing up the Institute with Irena. Things that I feel should happen without much reason, especially that dream. The part called Blank Slate repeatedly returns to that idea. Remember is a novel that allows in-depth analysis.

 

Still working away at Remember. Some time away and little soul searching told me I wasn’t finished. Back to the editing table for now.

 

GK

subscribe button