Light at the End of the Tunnel

I kept chipping away at ideas for the online novel throughout the day and well into the afternoon.  I constantly as the overriding question: what do I want?  I mean, sure, like Tyrion Lannister, I want to die at the age of 80 (preferably older) in my own bed with a belly full of wine and a woman’s lips wrapped around my cock, but I’m neither short nor a resident of Westeros, so let’s rephrase the question to “what do I want with the online novel?”

The question comes back to an issue of subject matter.  There are so many things I’d like to cover, so many topics I’d want to write about.  War.  Exploration.  The human (and alien) condition.  I want to write about survival and culture clashes, about who we are and where we’re going. I want to write about science and technology, and how they’ll have an impact on us and the future.  I want to write about fear, to give the reader that strange Giger beast from Alien that jumps out of an egg and fucks an astronaut, depositing an entity within.  Of all the aliens in science fiction, I think that Giger helped to realize the best one.  Certainly, it was the most memorable.

I want to write something that even I won’t expect.  I want to have a moment where something pops in my head, and I shout, “Holy shit!  What an idea!”  Instead, I feel like I’m wandering around like an idiot groping at empty space.  I’ve got no science fiction story; no character, and certainly no solid situation.

I think one deep problem I’m having is looking at the online novel as something that will go on forever.  It won’t be like writing this blog.  This, I’m always working on and adding to.  My Corner of the Catacombs is a place where I talk about writing and what’s going on with me.  It’s less of a narrative and more of an ongoing journal open to the public.  The online novel, however, needs an ending.  Justin Cronin once said that beginning a novel is important, but finishing one is more crucial.

So I’ve basically been taking each of those beads in my head and trying to line them up in a string to go on and on with no end.  Bad idea.  The only difference between an online novel, or an e-book, and their hard copy counterpart is the material.  One’s got paper, and the other lines of code.  Regardless, there’s always and end to a novel.  There has to be.

Let’s look at one more example: Harry Turtledove’s Tosev novels, an eight-part series dealing with humanity’s relationship with reptilian aliens called the Race.  It’s broken into three main portions: World War set in World War II, Colonization set during the 1960s, and Homeward Bound the conclusion.  Now, imagine that Turtledove posted these books online like I want to do with my project.  It works up to a point.

The World War portion ends in anticipation of the Race’s colonization fleet heading towards Earth.  You know there’s more to come.  The final book, Homeward Bound, has humans going to the home planet of the Race, but it ends with uncertainty about the future.  That book was published in 2004, and I’m sure that Turtledove could have go one.  He could have written about how humanity colonizes the galaxy with faster-than-light spacecraft while the Race lags behind, but at that point there really stops being any conflict.  The Race simply cannot compete anymore.  So Turtledove would have ended an online project at that point rather than dick around with it a decade on simply because he could.

So let me recap.  First, I need to settle on a single premise.  I can’t go planning where this is going to go ten years down the line.  Second, I need to find an end point where this goes from an ongoing series to a finished product.

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