When I pumped out my first printing of Lucky, I held my breath. Lucky is of course a novella plus several short stories; a mix of different styles and content; Space Opera, Realism, Alienation and Horror, all to the tune of SF. There’s some content that, depending on your imagination, could be considered explicit. It hints at sex and violence, but barring a couple of cuss words, the language is no different to what can be heard on a news programme.
The intent is different. I was brought up in the harsh world that the lowest in society inhabit. The language is crude and raw. Those who make money do it from the misery of others. Everyone knows this yet there’s no proof. Politicians make noises but the well-to-do have little experience of how the authorities are at the coal-face. They are best avoided. It’s a closed claustrophobic world where you second guess what won’t offend those higher up in the pecking order, because if you do, you cut yourself adrift from everything. With no money and no skills you have literally nowhere to run. Having lived it for twenty years, it’s a dilemma I know too well.
However, this is mostly female pov… even in civilised societies, a woman’s life can be hell. At that level, Lucky has touched a raw nerve. I kind of knew it would. It’s hell on the sink estates and I’m telling it as it is; with the added bonus that my alien heroine doesn’t need (at a biological level) to connect to the people she comes across. They are different to her. If she can’t live the life she wants, she can just up and away in her spaceship.
Once I’ve written a piece I reappraise myself in a writing kind of way. I look to the audience. They are a mirror to my dreams; listen and I learn what I have conveyed. That helps me wrestle with issues that are doubtless a normal part of the authorial learning curve: In this instance is Lucky too explicit? Do the same rules apply to my non-SF pieces? I can write anodyne but would I want to? It would disappoint me to make my output safe and bland. Worse still would be to continue writing stuff that in the end required total rewrites.
The problem is, once you begin a story, it acquires its own momentum. Lucky was intended to have a brief sojourn on Earth, before kicking off into a second phase of Space Opera. That second phase will occur but my plucky alien heroine is still stuck on a sink estate in the North of England. It takes an effort to not continue writing it, but I wonder if this has strayed too far from the normal lands of trad. SF. My self-set task, develop three Noir pieces to at least 10k words each (current state of play: Alibi = 8k, Without Question = 7k, Harjazes = 9k) is as mentioned earlier. These are my homage to James Cagney and Orson Welles, but they’re still a stopgap. Self analysis keeps kicking in. Do I reappraise style and content?
No answers occur to me and now a writing deadspot has developed. It’s not quite a block, more of a ‘How long am I supposed to wait for the f—g signpost?‘
[edit – About 12 months back (16/04/2013) I began a High Fantasy story and completed about the first 300 words. It concerns two bodiless beings, Ting and Ming, with a penchant for mischief. They live far from human habitation in a world of knights and perilous quests. Some Seekers, who have been questing in the way Seekers do, are about to find Ting and Ming. The results won’t be pleasant. – end edit]
Title A Sending