Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lightning Strikes: New Superhero Novel Started

I have been struggling with Twilight of the Gods, a prequel to Hungry Gods starring the Phen Five.  It's going to be pretty long and jumps around with a lot of characters.  What I have so far is actually a lot of fun, but the further I've gotten, the more it's felt like pulling teeth.  Part of the problem is I don't know exactly what's going to happen.  I generally know what's going to happen with some characters, but it's like a "fog of war" video game situation, where I see certain events on the map but how we get to them is hidden from me.

For the record, I don't outline.  Not really.  I generally know the gist of the story and only "outline" a few chapters ahead from where I'm at at a time.  But with this story, it's just so big that it intimidates me. And it's been a bummer trying to force myself to sit down and work on it.  Once I'm into what I'm doing, it flows nicely.  I have some great material so far.  About 21,000 words of it.  But I'm just not feeling it.  I'm not excited.  It feels like work.  That's the best way I can describe it: it feels like work.

So I sat down today with a coffee in a Japanese coffee shop and started browsing through my huge list of projects waiting in the wings.  Fix up this old novel?  Revise that?  Go ahead and write the D&D-like adventure fantasy I've been jonesing to do?  But that would mean starting ANOTHER series before moving forward into one of the ones I have already.

I stared out the window.  This was the second story, seated at a nice little wooden table all my own, looking out the front of the building into the city intersection below.  Crosswalks.  Traffic lights.  Glass-fronted convenience stores.  People and cars and busses coming and going.

And I thought, This is my opening scene.  Right here.

And there's a 15-foot tall slime monster raging around right there in the intersection where people are crossing.

I opened a new, blank document and started to type.

And I wrote nearly the entire first chapter in one sitting, powered by raw inspiration, a little bit of desperation, and a jolt of caffeine.

I'm therefore 2300 words into Deus Ex Machina, the sequel to Hungry Gods, starring everyone's favorite smart-ass speedster, Spitball.   This book will go way faster than Twilight would.  And I do want to write that one before moving into Book Three of Spitball's adventures, because a lot of background will come from it.  But for now, I'm finally jazzed again about writing instead of afraid of the huge task of it.  Someday will be the right day for writing Twilight, but today just isn't it.

In fact…  Get this.

I started reading a book about the I Ching today, getting back to my Taoist roots I've forgotten about for 10 or 12 years.  (Also doing it in preparation for reworking a story 14 years old.)  I was reading on a picnic table in the park and suddenly noticed a dime was lying there right in front of my book.  Didn't see it when I sat down, didn't see it for the first several pages.  But there it was, just as I was thinking I could use a coin to flip in order to use the I Ching like an oracle right about then.  Just for fun.  But here was this cosmic coin from nowhere.

So I flipped it 6 times, for six lines of yin or yang, forming the Gua of Mountain above, Heaven below, which equated to Firm Restraint in the text.  (See you get two symbols based on 3 lines each of yin/yang.  Ever noticed those lines on Snake-eyes's shoulder?  That's what that is.)

It's kind of like a fortune cookie kind of thing.  Two of the lines for Firm Restraint read like this: "When your efforts to proceed are strongly thwarted, wait.  Remain calm and collected until the way is clear."  Then, "There should not be the slightest doubt that your way is completely blocked.  Do not even contemplate moving ahead."

Well damn.  That sure seemed fitting, considering my constant conflict about writing Twilight of the Gods.

But not really cheerful or what I wanted to hear.  Maybe I'll flip out a new one, I thought.

I flipped the coin with my thumb for the first line and launched it clear over the edge of the picnic table.  It landed silently in the grass, and when I looked for it, it was gone.

There would be no second fortune.  This was it, my one and only.  The cosmic coin had done its work and had then disappeared as mysteriously as it had come.

Not kidding.  Really happened.

Therefore, I'm going with DXM!  Twilight, you'll have to wait (probably until next year).

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