I’m seeing this post as an effort to clear my thinking though it may actually be total procrastination. During the past week I’ve been working on my structural rewrite of my old ebook. It’s led me into a lot of different idea streams that are now swirling around my head and creating a kind of mental fog. I need to get clear, focused and figure out where to next.
First – the practical issues. I attempted to print out the old story and included some of the rewrites I’d already done and some of the stuff I have typed up from the Kindle version of the original novel (for those who didn’t read my last post – the published Kindle version is different from the USB version I had saved – due to several computer crashes).
A major problem arose. My old printer – a Canon – died last month from built in obsolesce and refused to print another page. I bought a cheap new HP printer which drinks ink at an alarming rate. I bought a $25 black ink cartridge this week. It printed out 180 pages then started pushing out blank pages. Apparently it was out of ink. I’d been printing in draft mode too. Several swear words later I printed out the rest of the story in a variety of faded coloured inks – mostly a faint red which is quite difficult to read! Insert laughing manically instead of crying here.
So – major issue – what is a good brand of cheaper home printer that is efficient and economical? Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
Then – putting that aside – I read through the story as it now exists. I quickly realised my main character in the original was completely unresolved. At times she came across as arrogant and intolerant, at other times she was wishy-washy and indecisive. That realisation led me to question what her motives were and what the underlying theme of the story actually was.
A broad sweep of the story –
it is set about 175 years from now and is about how climate change has effected the environment and the way people live.
Doing more research about climate change I realised that although no one really knows what will happen many experts agree it already happening and that the outcomes are totally unpredictable. I have been reading a lot about what that means for humanity.
One book I have found to be very difficult, but ultimately very helpful from a writer’s pov, is “Coming Back to Life’ by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown. Early in the book they write that in the industrialized world three major stories are currently available to us:-
- Business as Usual. This is the story presented to us by politicians, corporations and corporate-controlled media. The underlying assumption here is that very little needs to change. It’s all about getting ahead. Weather events and economic problems are just temporary. We can recover and even profit from them.
- The Great Unraveling – the story we often hear from environmentalists, independent journalists and activists. This story is based on evidence backed data and focuses on the collapse of biological, ecological, economic and social systems caused by the business as usual approach.
- The Great Turning This is an alternate story about the emergence of new and creative human responses to enable the transition to a Life-Sustaining Society. The central plot is about joining together to save life on Earth.
The authors of the book write “We can choose the one we want to get behind, the one that seems to hold the widest and useful perspective.
I am interested in writing about the third perspective but I think writing a cheery, it’s all going to be fine type story would only tell half the story. I feel like I need to write about the devastating impact of climate change as well.
I read an article on the online journal ‘The conversation’ which summed up my thoughts here
“It is crucial that utopian cli-fi novels make it clear that for every utopian vision an alternative dystopia could be just around the corner. (It’s worth remembering that in Le Guin’s foundational utopian novel The Dispossessed, the moon’s society have escaped from a dystopian planet.) …
Forward-thinking cli-fi, then, needs to imagine sustainable futures while recognising the disparities of climate change and honouring the struggles of the most vulnerable human and non-humans. Imagining positive futures is key – but a race where no one is left behind should be at the centre of the story we aspire to.”
So there is the problem with main character – just who is she in all of the above?
Slowly, slowly I chip away at this and the structural problems I have with my story. Earlier today I decided it would be fun to have a group of people living in an old church. My dad was a very religious man. When I was growing up he often insisted we go to church while we were on holiday. We would get dressed up in our finest gear – gloves and all – and attend church services in little country towns. The religion didn’t really appeal to me and I renounced it in my teens but memories of those old buildings still linger.
This morning over breakfast I speculated as to whether I could go for a drive to visit one this weekend. I tossed the idea around for a while then decided not to. Instead I went online and looked up country churches for sale in Australia. It was the easiest way to examine the buildings, both inside and outside.
One of the churches I discovered is currently for sale in a small country town in north west Victoria. For the past 25 years it had been owned by a poet and has had a rudimentary renovation. I really liked the look of it and for a wild moment speculated about buying it. It’s quite cheap as far as dwellings go in this country – only $170,000. Of course to get that amount of money I would have to win the lottery and to do that I’d have to buy a ticket. So unless some mysterious benefactor suddenly gives me the money it looks like I can’t give up book writing, move to the country and put some of the ideas I’m reading about into practice. Instead I will write about how such a church and the land around it might look 175 years in the future. That is of course, if I can figure out just what motivates my character to go on an adventure and meet the people living in the church…
to be continued (maybe next week)