The Spoiler Room…
I’m going to pretend missing two posts of my book (I was trying to consistently post on Sundays and Wednesdays) was just me taking a conscious break, rather than me missing two self-imposed deadlines in a row.
I’m not even behind in writing anything new – just behind in editing and posting things I’ve already written, weeks and weeks ago. I’m certainly some kind of good at procrastination.
But now that I’ve missed my deadlines this week, and I’ve also decided the month of July is my No Judgements month, I’m not going to be hard on myself for it, and instead treat this week as an intermission in the story, and an opportunity to discuss something about the writing of it. I don’t know what I’m planning to say, but I’ll start saying it, and then we’ll find out.
SPOILER ALERT: I will give away some things about the story in this Writing Things series. I consider this story to be a thing being written “in the open“, and so part of that is sharing the thinking that is going into the writing. I suppose that might be my product, more than a finished book: a book being worked on, out in the open, that might someday be finished, but isn’t yet.
SECOND SPOILER ALERT: Although I welcome you to visit the Github page and read forward or scroll through the story’s edit history, I also encourage you to wait for the edited chapters to appear here, if you prefer to encounter the book in its current best state; I have a backlog of about 15 chapters, but before I post each to WordPress, I am giving it yet another editing pass, and every one of them has been tweaked in small or large ways, before ending up here.
Just letting the reader know, in case you’re here for the story, and not the story about the story. You get it.
From the beginning of the story idea, which I think I first had five years ago now, I wanted to write a story that had a causal loop in it. I called the story The Wimsel Loop, and the main character was initially an old wizard. The wizard came from another dimension to fix a problem that he had caused, somehow. He had gotten himself into a causal tangle of his own making.
I had no knowledge of how this would be constructed, I just had the idea. His arrival in our world was witnessed by a crow, and this was the start of my book.
Then, in chapter 3, Maeve Morgan appeared. I think she more-or-less materialized during these early chapters, but maybe I had her in mind earlier on, I don’t recall anymore.
The story then kind of became a bit more about Maeve, as the central character, and the wizard and crow became peripheral, but important, as containers for Maeve’s story.
I had begun to try and work out how these stories were interconnected, or even nested, but it was very vague. It still is, and this aspect of the story – how exactly Maeve’s story is interwoven into those of others – is still very much the challenge I’ve given myself. I know now more than I did then, but I’m also experiencing the changing of my own mind, as I write, so it’s still unsolved, this mystery.
The wizard has gone almost entirely missing, except as a kind of rumour, and the crow has been left out so far, although her kin make appearances on the island and in the Isles as well, which is either a kind of foreshadowing, or else their new incarnation.
I had the intention to tell Maeve’s story in third person omniscient voice, and to focus on her at the age of about 11 (going on thirteen), when she first arrives to stay with Bee.
I found this, in practice, a bit hard to cold start. I had written some things, but I was going down a wrong track, a bit, trying to focus on her tween friendships and family dynamics, and then trying to bring a wizard into the mix.
I’ll stop with the wizard backstory and what the book turned out not to be, for now. I want to talk about where Maeve’s voice came from, in all of this.
When the opportunity to join a writing challenge with a words-per-week component appeared, I took it on, to get myself moving in some different way. I found myself asking Maeve to tell her story for me. I’m the voice she heard, but also not. So Maeve started telling me her story. That way, I could let myself off the hook, and become more of a researcher. Later on, I might decide to re-write the story from the third person, once Maeve had told me the gist. It was a trick on myself. Hey, whatever works.
I wrote a fair amount in her voice, and realized I enjoyed writing the book from her older perspective, as she looked back on that period of time and recalled it from her own, non-omniscient perspective.
It turns out, the book’s proper voice might have been hers all along, and not mine. This began to make sense to me, since it was Maeve’s story; who was I to tell it, without her telling it to me first?
I was also enjoying the idea that the character telling the story in the first person wasn’t omniscient at all, or even close to their “end of life”, where all of the story was now behind them – Maeve is living her story, while also recounting it. I’ve talked about this aspect in previous posts already, so I won’t belabour it.
I had often wondered how writers managed to time jump around when writing a story – I mean, when doing flashbacks and so on… how did they actually accomplish this? I had found my own way to an approach that worked for me.
Of course you know this is all writer’s trickery: it’s still me writing about fictional characters (and as a fictional author, to boot), but it also changes things too, in a real sense. The book is supposed to be about a loop, and I needed to be a part of it, not apart from it.
There have always been three worlds involved in the Wimsel Loop, in my imagination, whenever I’ve imagined the book being finished.
There is the world Maeve lives in (let’s call it Fictional Earth, which is a well-visited place seen in countless novels by countless authors). Let’s call that World A.
Then there is the world of the Allegoriian Isles, which is fictional, even by Fictional Earth’s standards – this is the land of fairy tales, of the kind even Maeve well knows about. That’s World B.
Then there’s the world you and I inhabit. As far as you and I are aware, this is the actual real world… but maybe to Maeve, or to Bardlii, our world would be entirely fictional. How could we know for sure? We are World C.
What happens in Maeve’s world informs what happens in Bardlii’s. This hasn’t materialized in obvious ways within the story yet, since Maeve is talkative and is taking her sweet time getting to that part. What happens in Bardlii’s world affects Maeve’s as well. What happens in those worlds either engages an audience here, or else it doesn’t. Actually, even if it doesn’t, it still engages a writer, who doesn’t always know what they’re going to write, until they start writing it.
This completes the shape of a kind of loop, where causality can flow in both directions, between three worlds… and that’s always been what The Wimsel Loop has wanted to be about: the interconnectedness of stories, as metaphysics. One story can’t continue without the other, and then the other still, and then back again. A decent metaphor for a speculative fiction story. Nothing new under the sun, but one that I wanted to write, in any event.
So where does Wimsel fit in? Well, I don’t know. Wimsel has appeared in some of my earliest stories, as well as Wimsels. Who or what is a Wimsel? Answering that is part of the story, and part of my challenge. Maybe part of yours too.
But now, the story is called Witches & Knights & Unicorn Fights, because I needed Maeve’s story to have its own name, and that’s about as confusing as I feel like getting right now. I’m just making all of this up, obviously. There is no master plan. Not one that I know about, anyhow.
The point though I wanted to make was this: the writing of this book – because of its theme, its metaphysics, and the way people’s feedback can be such a powerful element – could not happen in its entirety, entirely separate from the involvement of readers, like you. You are of World C, and what happens here, makes a difference in Maeve’s world and Bardlii’s too. This is how all web fictions go, after all – the readers become a real part of the story, even just by reading it, and the story becomes a part of their day, and so a part of their story too. Even knowing this helps me write the thing.
So, thank you. I really mean it.
I’ll write more about using Github and the Creative Commons License in a future Writing Things post – I just felt like being candid about how this continues to slowwwly evolve… and I’ve left a lot of detail out, because, like any long-running project, this one’s gone through its share of phases, and has left a great deal of detail in its wake already. I’m quite sure it’s not done doing that.