One of the things I appreciate most about sites like Archive of Our Own and Fan Fiction is the notes, the part after the story where the author chats about the current chapter or story, what they did and how they did it. Fanfic sites are often trying hard to teach one another the very craft of writing, so talking and reading about process gives other participants insight into how authors are thinking even as they’re writing.

Obviously, in a traditional novel, that doesn’t work. But I’ve never been a traditional novelist. I posted chapter four of Honest Impulses today, Working Together, which finally gets our two protagonists into the same room, where lots of emotional fireworks seem to be going off all at once. Poor, confused robot and her equally confused new friend. But that’s the nice thing about this story; I’ve tried to apply a lot of McKee’s Story theories to this novel, so there are lots of emotional flips where the character starts out feeling secure and ends up insecure, and then gets flipped back and forth at higher and higher intervals until something breaks.

Anyway, enjoy!

Journal Entry 180 / 3262: Honest Impulses 01: A Whole New World is the first chapter of a new novel-length series of Misuko & Linia episodes set on Hiroshi. There will be love, lust, angst, and, of course, sex.

This work is in line with a lot of what I’ve been doing recently: not every chapter will feature sex. There are a number of love scenes in the book, but there are quite a few chapters that are character or plot oriented. These are not heavily furry stories; most of the love scenes center around F/F human/robot interactions, so if that’s your thing, this is your thing.

This is something like my tenth or eleventh novel, if you consider projects where I deliberately set out to write something longer than 50,000 words and managed to make a story out of it. I’m proud of this work; it hangs together, it means something, and the last three chapters still make me cry when I read them (and there’s a lot more sex toward the end of the book, now that I think about it…), so I hope my readers get the same sensations out of it that I do.

The plan is to release a new episode every two weeks. At that rate, all 25 chapters will be done by the first week of December. This is similar to how I posted Star Kingdom.

If you can’t wait that long, I am assembling e-pub and print editions, but those will be available for a price. I expect the e-pub editions to come out for Nook and Kindle the first week of February, and the print edition to be available in mid-March. I’ll try to get them out sooner, but those are the target dates.

Journal Entry 80 / 3262: Necessary Repairs is a Misuko & Linia story set between Honest Response and Honest Question, and introduces a new minor character, a Doctor Swadjtwai, as well as establishes some important character aspects of Linia and Misuko’s relationship that will be challenged in the upcoming Honesty novel coming in January. Really. It’s that close to being done. I just did a copy-edit pass and the plot is good and solid. There are 156 typos in 232 pages (I did say it was a novel), but I’ve got a to-do list and a long weekend coming up, so… we’ll see.

Last night I wrote the two words every writer craves more than any other: THE END. A story that has been on the back-burner for more than seven years finally came together. It went through revisions, so many revisions, so many good ideas that I had to twist, warp, include or discard to get to the point where I had told the story first. For the longest time I had a mass of chapters, scenes, and even just paragraphs that didn’t add up to a single, coherent story, and now they do.

I think.

Because the next step is to re-read the entirety of it and ask myself, “Do I make promises to the reader, and do I keep them?” Because I have a motto for writing novels: The Promise of the Premise conquers The Muddle in the Middle. “The muddle in the middle” is the part of the book between your clever introductions and your brilliant climax where lots of authors get lost and muddle through, trying to put together small points that may or may not lead to the ending.

The promise of the premise is just that. In the opening chapters you make promises about the story, and by the end of the book you’ve either kept or exceeded those promises. If you break your promises, you lose the reader and they won’t come back.

I write smutty, fluffy, often romantic stories set in science fictional worlds, with occasional moments of action, political tension, philosophical intrigue, or just downright weirdness. In Chapter One I introduce the heroine, Shandy, a hormonally challenged young woman from a world that rejects AIs and robots, so the promise here is obvious: by the end of the book Shandy will fuck a robot. In Chapter Two I re-introduce my protagonists from the last book, Misuko & Linia, a monogamous human/robot couple who talk about their monogamy and desire for one another in the strongest terms, so the promise here is obvious: something will come along to challenge their monogamy, and that introduces a third promise: It’s gonna be Shandy & Linia, somehow. More promises are made as the story goes on, involving five-meter-tall construction drones, questions about how a robot-heavy culture may encourage domestic violence, and how one lives in a culture where actual, human challenges are few and far between.

The answer I’m getting back now is that, mostly, the story hangs together. There are characters with too much spotlight (they’re named and seem to have a role, but disappear before the climax without sufficient justification for their roles), and there are some smaller promises made that aren’t kept. The second-to-last love scene isn’t as strong as I’d like. (Listening to audiobooks in the car is a great way to catch up on reading, but sometimes the cadence of the voice actress later invades the fingers at the keyboard.) This story has a painfully tight timeline, so fixing/changing them may be challenging, but… at least it’s done. Now to give it time to ferment, and which point, after Nanowrimo, I’ll go back and revise it.

On to other projects!

Foz Meadows has a pretty good post about adults writing fanfic and occupying fan spaces in which they push back against the argument that older people (like me) shouldn’t hang out in “fan spaces” like AO3, Tumblr, or FanFiction, because they’re primarily “young people spaces.”

Says who?

Meadows’s insight, which I believe is absolutely correct, is that this argument exactly mirrors the arguments (still held in some places) that young people shouldn’t be exposed to queers in general, since queerness (unlike straightness) is “about sex” and therefore being queer in young people’s spaces is somehow inherently predatory. Meadows is exactly right that this erases queer history from young people’s lives; all the things we went through in the 1980s and 1990s are elided from young peoples’ lives; they never get stories about surviving AIDS, and about attending the funerals of our friends who didn’t. They don’t know about Queer Nation and ACT UP!

(This seems to be a familiar dynamic in other fan spaces, though. The number of people who describes themselves as “fully committed lifestyle furries” who have no idea what the 1990s furry culture was like is a bit… alarming.)

There’s one thing, though, that I’d like to address. When Meadows writes, “This argument mirrors the argument that queer adults are a corrupting influence on kids,” I’m going to have to plead: guilty.

I started writing my stories as fanfic when I was seventeen. It wasn’t called “fanfic” in 1983, and there were no formalisms, and I was a horny, conflicted, terribly introverted and socially dysfunctional teenager, so they were all awful. It wasn’t until I was 22 or so that I started cleaning them up, tossing all the hand-written ones out and re-writing them as a non-fanfic-oriented erotic serial, and using them primarily as a way to loudly come out of all the closets in which I’d spent my teenage years hiding.

So here’s the thing: I’ve never stopped writing to my seventeen-year-old self. I’ve never stopped writing stories that were meant to say something about who I became and how I got there. And to the extent that I don’t limit who can read my stories, to the extent that I do write stuff rated Mature and Explicit, and post them on FanFiction and AO3, I do so with the full knowledge that not everyone tells the truth about their age, and if what I’ve written “corrupts” even one teenager into realizing his or her journey isn’t nearly as weird or lonely as once believed, I’m more than okay with that. That all those feelings they have can be expressed and enjoyed without trauma, without coercion, and without losing yourself. That emotional intelligence is a skill you need and can learn, but with it you’ll be able to enjoy reaching the age of consent with many of the risks mitigated and managed.

After all, that’s what my seventeen-year-old self really wanted to know.

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