Previously on From Scratch, I pondered which of the two water-themed story ideas I would go with:
- A melancholy dark fantasy story about a healer betraying her friends to defend helpless civilians who hate her and are doomed anyway; OR
- A space pirate adventure revolving around an attempt to steal a tanker full of holy water from the home planet of a xenophobic empire of whackjobs.
Option 1 appeals to me as a writer – dark and brooding has mostly been my go-to, and it would be a story set in a world I’ve spent a fair bit of time fleshing out for myself.
Option 2, on the other hand, is a setting I’ve only really thought about. I’ve written the first chapter of a potential future novel in this same setting, and I’ve doodled a whole bunch of spaceship designs during meetings at work, but otherwise it’s a blank slate in a new setting in a style that I haven’t really ventured into (barring some Warhammer 40,000 fan fiction back in the day, which was tonally very different to what I’d be aiming for here).
After much pondering (it took minutes, I swear!), I made the decision to not make a decision. Instead, I’m just going to write both of them.
To be honest, there’s a couple of reasons for this – I could say that both interest me equally, although that wouldn’t be entirely true. I could say that both are gateway stories into linked novels I’ve been planning to write, which would also be true. I could even say that I miss writing short stories (which is 100% true), so why limit myself?
The real reason is that I have missed writing like this. For the first time in literal years, I am feeling inspired – like I cannot wait to drop whatever else I am doing so I can sit down and get more words down. I’m craving the redrafting; the cutting of whole pages of beloved text simply because it doesn’t quite work. I want to ruthlessly edit and get criticism from my beta readers and all of that good stuff.
Thinking about this process has made me realise just how much of a misstep focusing on writing my novel to the exclusion of all else has been. I’ve always been the kind of guy who functions best with multiple projects going at once – I’ve been one for laser focus. Focusing on rewriting and redrafting Freeburn, as useful as that has been for nutting out solutions to problems I was having, has also led to me basically not writing anything new except the odd sentence here or there for a very long time. Obsession with getting it right has led to me resenting it a bit, and my writing process has suffered as a result.
Freeburn is on the back burner for now, and I think it will be the better for it. In the meantime, I have begun writing the as-yet-untitled tale of Captain Ayla Neshitani and her band of roguish space pirates, and I’m about 2/3rds of the way through the first draft. I’ve even managed to fit in a pretty decent cloaca joke that I’m hoping will make it through to the final version.
I’m very excited to discuss this first story in more detail…next time, on From Scratch.