What I’m Working on Now

In an earlier post from January, I talked about why I write and what I’ve written. In it, I mentioned the book I’m currently working on and that I would expand a bit more about it in another post. That’s this post. The post is happening now. Right now. Here it goes.

(I should mention, I don’t do the greatest of jobs making this book sound like an actual book right now—because it isn’t. It is not a concise, “back of the book” type explanation. I’m just rambling about it. First draft, people, we’re at a FIRST DRAFT LEVEL of description.)

Future Book—as I call it, since there is no title—is set in the, you guessed it, future. How far into the future? The year 2334. Or 2234. I haven’t decided. The book’s set in a very different U.S. from today. Over the last 200/300 years, the cities have grown to become enormous, limits blurring, and there are now only seven Great Cities, broken into sectors. Some states are viewed by locals as regions, containing a handful of sectors, but for the most part, they’re gone. A lot has happened to shift this—war, politics, rising sea levels. There are some sectors that are more well-off than others, with its residents being the richest in the world, and some are incredibly poor and rundown. There’s also a lot of new technology—there are some new providences on the Moon and a colony on Mars. In this future, people have become more evolved and have a telepathic ability. Everyone has it, everyone uses it, but it’s hard to control. And it’s caused problems—war, for one—and remains an affliction rather than a useful tool for most people. No one really knows why it happened—technology effecting our minds, a dormant gene that started to show up over a long period of time, or that it started from scientific experiments and it started to naturally trigger itself in offspring and surrounding people, passing it on for the last few centuries. For the rich and people who can afford it, a device can be implanted in the brain to control it. For the poor, there’s nothing. In less-off sectors, crime is low—no secrets, no hiding. In the rich sectors, crime is incredibly high in comparison to the poor (about the same as it is now)—secrets can be kept and crimes committed without anyone knowing.

AND HERE COMES THE STORY PART. God, I need to work on my elevator pitch. Good thing this is a first draft. And I’m not on an elevator pitching to an editor or agent.

Lily is seventeen (did I mention this is YA?) and is at the top of her training class, aspiring to be a Force—the police/law enforcement in the future—detective like her father. She’s the youngest ever to graduate. After she escapes an attack by a mysterious terror group, she develops PTSD and struggles with her first murder investigation. There’s a lot of DETECTIVE STUFF and TELEPORTING and MURDER and CONSPIRACIES and TELEPATHY and FUTURE THINGS.

Basically, I’m in love with it and am excited to work on it every chance I have.

For the most part, I got the idea of Future Book because I was thinking a lot about evolution and wondering how much change humans have gone through, how much more change there could be, and how technology will change. Then I read an article about experimenting with mice and telepathic connections between them and I thought about if humans could communicate telepathically, and how cool that would be. And how awful that would be. Would it be constantly on? Would we be able to control it? How could we control it? That’s where the device came in. How expensive would it be? What about the procedure? Could poorer people afford it? How would that effect people with less income? Would that effect whole areas with a lot of poor people? With a lot of wealthy people? What about the middle class? Would there be a big change in the US and there wouldn’t be wealthy/poor/middle distinction? How would we change as a society? What else would be effected? How would the country run? How many US Presidents would the country have in a few hundred years? I’m tired just thinking about all this?

Crime would probably decrease if there were no secrets. That thought started it. I thought about how the police system would shift, focusing more on the wealthy because crime in poor areas would nearly come to an end. It all started from that idea, and then Lily came in saying, “Give me a murder case to solve. I’m good at solving those.” And that’s that.

There’s a lot of work in writing about the future, though. Research on technology growth: how things work now will be different. Will we have cell phones? An equivalent to them? Cars? Trains? Planes? TVs? Computers? What will be new, what will just be different? There’s a lot of making stuff up. I can’t predict the future. A lot of the time I think, “Is that how police stations work? Is that how law enforcement works at all?” I usually just say, “Who knows? 300 years is a long way away. Do what you want, self.”

And there’s a lot of things to consider with fiction set in the future. Look at Back to the Future: Part II—October 2015 came around and we had no hoverboards, no flying cars, no more sequels to Jaws than we had before. The future isn’t always what we think it will be. That’s how I’m approaching this book: it’s probably not going to be as advanced as we think. Though, 300 years is much more than the 30 years from 1985 and 2015. Exactly 10 times more, actually. But there’s also other things to consider that could set us back: war, natural disasters, literally anything could change at any time to thwart technology from advancing anymore. Who knows? Within a 200/300 year time frame, society could collapse and we’ll have to start over again, and by 2234/2334, it might look exactly as I imagined or exactly as it does today, or it will be much more advanced than I wrote, or everyone will be dead. Either way, it’s just fun making it all up.

Anyway, that’s my current WIP! I’m having a blast writing it.

That’s all for now!

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Writing: Why I Do It & What I’ve Written

Hello!

Now that I’m going to be posting more about my writing, I thought I’d start with a little history of how writing became such a part of my life and where I am now. Why do I write? What have I written?

I had always been an imaginative kid. Every toy had an expansive backstory, every game with my cousins became an epic play we’d act out—at my direction; I’ve apologized for being the Bossy One—playing in the giant sand pile in our grandmother’s backyard turned into being stranded on an island with pirates, playing a game of hide-and-seek became a hunt for an escaped prisoner. We battled aliens, fought wars, created worlds. The Mountain, as we called (in reality it was a glorified hill with trees and big rocks, so mountain, obvs) was our fortress.

Soon I turned our games into stories, ideas for not books, but movies—I seriously considered becoming a screenwriter or a director for the longest time, by the way. I would make plans to have my cousins and I to play the parts, made lists of props we’d need and drew ideas for sets to build, and costumes to make. None of that happened because…well, we didn’t have a camera. That’s kind of a key component to film-making. But what did happen were the plans, the writing. I’d write for hours, scribbling in notebooks or stealing time on my mother’s computer when she wasn’t working, just to write out scenes and ideas for stories. Most of these writings were synopses of what would happen in the movies we would make, long explanations and bits of terrible dialogue.

And then something happened. Something big. My mother, who admittedly made an error, let me watch Misery when I was about eleven.

Now a normal human would watch Misery and think “I never want to be a writer. What if a lunatic fan kidnapped me?” Well, I would never want to be kidnapped by a lunatic fan, obviously, but what got me was James Caan’s character. Eleven-year-old me wanted to be him—sans hobbling. The scene with him in a wheelchair, sitting by the window and writing on that typewriter for hours and hours and days and days, the pages flowing, Chapter 32…Chapter 33…Chapter 34…That’s what hooked me. I watched that scene and thought, “That’s what I want to do. No more movies. I’m writing books.”

A few years earlier, my grandfather had given my sister and I a typewriter that he never used. We liked to type messages on it, slipping them under doors and leaving them in pockets of coats in the closet, but eventually we became bored after a few weeks. We stuffed the typewriter in the closet and forgot about it. But after watching Misery, I dug it out and began my life as a writer.

I wrote one chapter of a story. It was about four siblings going on a great adventure. Then I realized that typing on a typewriter was hard and thinking of a good story was hard, so I quit.

But that wasn’t the last of my attempt at writing. Around that same time, I really started reading books and enjoying them, never having an interest in them before then. I became obsessed with Christopher Paolini’s Eragon in the 5th grade (and obsessed with dragons in general) but I didn’t finish it until the 8th grade because I was a slow reader and I had to keep checking it out of the library over and over, and then had to leave it there over the summer, so I restarted reading it a few years later. (To be honest, I was the perfect target audience for the Harry Potter series, but I wasn’t allowed to read them. I might make a post about that one day. I’ve read them now, though (all but the last book, I stopped mid-way through to read a new release and never went back to it, but plan to soon.))

In the 6th grade, maybe a year after my stint with the typewriter, we had an assignment to draw a picture of dragons, or a dragon, and write a short story to go along with it. This re-sparked my love for writing and it hasn’t stopped since then. I went from short story to short story, I wrote with friends—starting on a notebook we’d pass to each other in class (a long story with different POVs) and then moving it online to a message board just for our stories—up until just after high school, I planned big epic books like Eragon and drew maps and dragons, but I never really did much writing that was substantial, on my own.

In my sophomore year of high school, I started dealing with my depression and anxiety. There were a lot of causes, but for the most part, I felt completely alone because of it. I had friends, but had very few classes with them. Everyday, I felt terrified to go to school even though I knew it wasn’t rational to think that way. I closed myself off a lot. Most of my family and friends didn’t even know what I was going through. Most of the time I acted as if nothing was wrong, keeping it inside. (I’m a lot, a lot, better now. Even starting with my junior year, a big change happened. It started to get better and better, and now, almost 8 years later, I’m doing good with the occasional bad day. I still deal with anxiety, but it’s a thousand times better than it was just a few years ago and especially then.)

Anyway—it started to get better. But while I was in it, and ever since, I wrote. During that year, I wrote to keep myself occupied, to keep my mind off of what I was going through, what I was feeling. It was during that year that I started my first book. It started as a combination of two short stories I was working on (I used to use the same first names for characters a lot, and the two stories merged together because of it). I became obsessed with researching online “how to write a novel” “how to outline a novel” “how to get a book published.” These led me to finding other writers and authors who had websites, and were eventually on Twitter, and listening to them and agents and editors with helpful blogs helped me learn all about writing and publishing. I realized during this time that wanted to write for real—like for a real job, not just something to do in my spare time.

I started writing that book in the tenth grade, but because I’m me, I spent almost two years just planning and outlining the book and the entire series it would be the beginning of—and wrote a single chapter. In my senior year, I really started writing the book and finished just after I graduated in December of 2011.

I’m done! I can have it published now! Oh, young me. Yep, you guessed it: I wasn’t done. I read through it and cried. It wasn’t ready. It wasn’t even close.

So I started rewriting and planning and working it out and editing and hey, 2013, how’d you get here? Yes, a year went by and I still hadn’t finished. I kept burying myself in more and more editing and rewriting, eventually realizing that it wasn’t working. It spiraled out of control. That’s when I decided to take a break. Because ideas come when they want to, over all that time, I’d get distracted for a couple of days by a new story idea. I’d take those days, write everything about the idea down on paper or onto the computer, then I would let it go and get back to writing the Book. With that break, I decided to start one of those ideas I’d written down months earlier.

I had two ideas that I really loved and was excited to start writing: the first book took place in a secluded town in 1910s New England where the Salem Witch Trials never ended. A young girl there is found to have dangerous powers and accidentally kills 12 young boys, so she’s banished to a place off the coast called the Island where she finds a secret village of witches. I wrote the first draft, really loving it, and am still proud of that draft, even with its flaws—the story works, and even after rereading some of it, I’m still into it.

After that, I quickly moved on to another first draft of a different book I’d loved the idea of—and it’s the book I’m currently working on. It’s set in the future with cops and telepathy and an underground rebellion. I plan on writing a whole post about this one, so I won’t go into too much detail here.

That first draft was finished within two months. I went back to the Book and struggled until October 2015, just this passed fall. Not only did I struggle for time to work on it after starting a business and starting the fall semester, I struggled with the book itself. The Book is so close to my heart, the world and characters and story is right there with my soul. It’s a part of me. And it crushed me to realized that it just wasn’t working. Again, I’ll write a whole post on it eventually, but it heavily wore on me for the rest of 2015. But I’ve started this year with a new energy and I’ve been able to move on. I had to shelve it, even though it hurt. I knew it wasn’t working how I wanted it. It didn’t mean I’d given up on it forever, but I felt like I kept working on something that just wasn’t going anywhere. And I needed to move on with the promise to come back to it later, even if that was years down the road.

So I looked at the two drafts I had, Witch Book and Future Book. I weighed them for a while, figuring out which was the stronger story, which I wanted to work on more, and the one that I thought was most publishable, because that’s the end goal after all. Future Book won.

And that’s where I am now, knee-deep in the first draft of a book I wrote two years ago. But to be honest, it’s working. I feel it working. The story is stronger, the characters more alive in my head while I write, and the world growing as I type. It’s going to be quite a bit of work, but I have faith that it will come together.

That’s all for now! I plan to post something about writing at least once a month along with the regular design-related content and I’ll post again soon.

EDIT: January 23rd

I recently cleaned out my childhood closet and found that original drawing of the dragon from the 6th grade that I wrote a story about (his name was Jadon and he had an elemental affiliation with water because I was also going through an Avatar: the Last Airbender phase…which I am still going through) and the old typewriter from my grandfather (that I’ll now be using and displaying on a shelf, because I like it.)

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