Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sailing Venus: Making up for lost time

July was a lost month. I knew it would be, with several weeks devoted to travel. For various reasons I won't bore you with, writing whilst traveling was not an option. Unfortunately, I didn't get any writing done when I wasn't traveling, either, which puts me behind the 8 ball, so to speak. As I look at my calendar, there are 77 days remaining until World Fantasy, which means I have to produce a minimum of 500 words a day to have a shot at finishing the darn thing. Trouble is, 500 words has been my average daily production, but I know with all certainty there's at least a dozen days in there that no writing will happen. So, substantially complete is a worthy goal, right?

The good news is that I've been moderately productive thus far in August. After getting only a page or two into Chapter 9 prior to the July disruption, I've completed it and am very close to finishing Chapter 10 as well. Interestingly enough, when I started 9 I was worried I wouldn't have enough story to fill the entire chapter. Well, it was more than enough, and a major sequence had to be split off for Chapter 10. And naturally enough, I worried that 10 would be unnaturally short, because I couldn't possibly have enough story to fill it. Guess what? It looks like 10 will end up almost exactly on average with the rest of the chapters. I guess my subconscious narrative construction is more reliable than my objective analysis, huh?

Tuesday I logged just a little north of 750 words, and last nigh around 500, give or take. That 500 is deceptive, though. While writing Tuesday, I had a notion to frame some actions in a certain way. Looking at the blocking of the scene within the chapter, it simply didn't make sense. It was pointless. So I didn't. I wrote it a different way and thought no more about it. But last night, I had to go back to a previous chapter to check a reference one character makes, and, lo and behold, I discover that way back in June I'd set up the scene to take place at a 45 degree angle. In light of this discovery, my initial urge to write the previous pages make complete and total sense and the way I'd actually written them, well, my descriptions and the actions of various characters were physically impossible. The literary equivalent of an Escher drawing, so to speak. So a great deal of last night was taken up with rewrites (happily, my rewrites go much more quickly than the initial writing) before progressing on to new stuff. The moral of this story? Trust my subconscious. My subconscious knows more than I do. It knows where the story's going, remembers where it's been. I could save myself a lot of grief by not over-thinking things.

Ultimately, I have to be pleased that I've returned to a consistent level of productivity, even if it's not as voluminous as I'd prefer. Here's a sample of what's happening in Erica's adventure on Venus:

Erica wrapped a hand around Wind Sprite's anchor cable and pulled herself up through the lock. She braced her feet against the angled rim of the access tunnel, one low and one high. The sailplane shifted treacherously beneath her, not quite in sync with the shudders of the ruined outpost above. Slowly Erica stood, both hands gripping the cable for stability.

"Don't look down. Don't look down," Erica muttered to herself before impulsively stealing a glance. Wind Sprite looked impossibly small, wedged amongst the wreckage of the outpost's docking port. Erica's feet straddled the edge of the abyss of billowing clouds. "Bad idea. Stop acting on bad ideas. Concentrate. Focus."

Sweat stung her eyes as she hooked her elbow around the cable, freeing a hand to brush uselessly against her mask. Annoyed as much by the sweat as her unthinking response, she shook her head vigorously to clear her eyes. That helped, a little.

Leaning her full length along the cable and extending her free arm, Erica could just reach the edge of the hatch. She slapped it with the flat of her palm, but the surrounding roar swallowed any sound she may have made. She didn't see any way she could open the hatch from the outside. She certainly had no way to push it open, not precariously perched as she was against the cable.

If there were survivors on board, they'd have to open from their side. But how to get their attention?

Why don't these damn breather masks have radios? she thought. I wish I could talk with Sigfried.

Wind Sprite shifted beneath her. Erica lost her balance, slipping to the side. Instinctively, she flung her free arm and legs around the cable, catching herself before she fell.

Dangling from the cable, high above Venus, Erica felt acutely alone. Tiny and vulnerable.
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