Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Blasts from the Past

Yesterday I did the scariest part of resurrecting an old project: I re-read what I'd already written. I always cringe a bit when doing that because it can be rather eye-opening. I'm detached enough from the process of writing it to be totally objective, which means I spot all the annoying writing habits, plot problems, etc. I would hope I've grown as a writer in the past couple of years, so this trip back in time can be uncomfortable. It wasn't too bad, but there's going to be a lot of re-writing.

It probably helped that I'd already done an even bigger trip down memory lane. When I wasn't singing or watching my neighborhood on the news this weekend, I indulged in a bit of nostalgia and did something I almost never do: I read my own books. I was in the mood for something like Enchanted, Inc. but there isn't really anything else out there that fills that particular craving, so I figured it had been a long time since I wrote it and I might be able to read it now. Normally, I avoid reading my books after they're published because I'm generally sick of them by the time I've read them a zillion times before publication, and once they're published, I can't change things. That makes it worse than re-reading an old work in progress.

It did take me a while to get past being conscious of every word and start just reading the story, but then I started almost being surprised because there were a lot of things I forgot about. When I finished that book, I immediately picked up Once Upon Stilettos, and I must have totally repressed that book because almost all of it felt "new" to me, like I hadn't written it. And, you know, it's a really good book. When I got near the end, I was frantically flipping pages, and I wrote it. I started on the next one, but that's when things went insane, so I got sidetracked, since I remember more of what happened there, as it's a lot more recent.

One weird thing I noticed was that my mental images of the characters has shifted slightly with time. It's almost like the roles have been re-cast in my head (not necessarily with actual actors, they're just different mental images). I did find myself hearing David McCallum's voice in my head for Merlin, which is new and different, but then I figured out that it was because Merlin calls Owen "Mr. Palmer" and that's what David McCallum's character calls his assistant on NCIS, which means that's the voice I'm most likely to hear saying the words "Mr. Palmer." (It's sad how long it took me to make that connection -- I was reading and thinking that phrasing sounded familiar, and only then did the Palmer connection occur to me.)

For other nostalgia, I created my own Sci Fi Friday by watching the episode "Serenity," the pilot (that was shown last) from Firefly. I found myself wishing I could find a science fiction book like that. I haven't read a lot of science fiction in a while. I used to be in a science fiction book group, but most of what we read was what I'd call "Earth-based" science fiction -- more set in the "real world" and exploring the ramifications of science. I like a lot of that -- stuff like Robert J. Sawyer and Connie Willis -- but it's been a while since I read a good, rollicking space adventure. There's the Barrayar series by Lois McMaster Bujold and the Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster. I've also got on my shelf Santiago by Mike Resnick (which has a rather Firefly feel to it) and something called The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn. Oh, and the "Ship Who Sang" series by Anne McCaffrey. I would love to find some books about the adventures of a spaceship crew -- nothing too portentious or trying to demonstrate where we're going wrong with society today. Just some character-based adventures where the interactions among the crew are as interesting as the conflicts they have with the things they face. Even the Star Wars tie-in books don't work now that the post-Jedi books seem to all be about people struggling against the Dark Side and the Clone Wars era books are about the adventures of Mary Sue Skywalker, the most awesome Jedi who ever Jedied, and isn't he so super special and powerful and awesome? (But try to forget that he becomes the villain and goes off to kill children and entire planets and be really into torture -- or about the fact that he was already pretty selfish and entitled and thought the rules didn't apply to him even before he went really bad -- during the era of these books.)

Any recommendations for fun science fiction? (Really, "fun" doesn't seem to be big in publishing these days, in general.)

In other news, I had an interesting name pop up in my in-box yesterday. I got an e-mail from Katie Chandler -- the real Katie Chandler. It's her married name, so I didn't steal her entire life, but she does have some startling similarities to my Katie. She found out about the books when she got a Facebook friend request that seemed to think it was a fan page about the character. So, for the record, the fictional Katie Chandler doesn't have a Facebook page. The real Katie Chandler seems like a lovely person, so who knows, you may want to be her friend, but don't expect to hear about her adventures working for a magical company.

1 comment:

Carradee said...

Ironically, in my current "revision"-stage project, it's the most recently written scenes that I tend to like best and remember least, because I've read them a handful of times all last year. And, since I started writing this around 6 years ago, they're better written than, say, scene #1, which I'm currently trying to figure out how to slaughter so it isn't wince-worthy.

Most people have problems with punctuation. Me, I have transition issues. *sighs and gets out her pink pen*

Hm... a fun sci-fi romp... I've been looking for that, some, myself. I know I found Linnea Sinclair's Gabriel's Ghost fun, but I'm not sure it qualifies as a romp. (I did not expect to like a paranormal romance.)

If I think of/find any others, I'll let you know.