It’s back to the beasty book I started writing between drafts of the current thing. My brain is enjoying the change in pace: a near future science fictional world and fresh characters: a cheerfully sweet genetically modified monster, and the son of the scientists who made them.
Drafting is my happy place. Even though I tend to work with a loose outline, things still happen that surprise me. Consequences grow out of personality and decisions, and characters start growing out of a seed into complex individuals. Watching the story emerge one of the few magical things I know. Its more like discovery than creation. The ride is always wild, but I always hate the end result.
I only love a story after it’s edited, because I never really understand the heart of a story until it’s gone through multiple drafts. For me, editing takes me longer than drafting. It’s is where themes emerge, I add layers to the bones, and where I can sharpen the words into needles or salves. It’s where the shape of the thing becomes clear, and I can decide whether or not the story has merit.
Which part of writing is your favorite?
My daily bus ride takes me through the shit part of the city every day. The people are a mix: construction workers, people in suits, people going to the gym in the early mornings, drunks, people going home after night shift, foreign students going to English school, homeless people, elderly folk heavy with groceries on their way home from Chinatown.
It’s never dangerous, but sometimes it gets uncomfortable. There are the occasional bible shouters who condemn everyone. The mentally ill passengers who babble nonsense. The usual men who demand your time, and then scream at you whether you politely listen or ignore them. There was the lady who kept bugging her drug dealer boyfriend for a score and threw a tantrum on the bus floor when he told her to wait till they got off. The homeless guy who ran into the bus to escape an argument with his girlfriend with only one shoe on. There was the drunk man who fell asleep on my shoulder. Once a correctional officer casually struck up a conversation about how inmates could turn plastic forks into shivs. He smelled like beer.
But always, someone will get up if they see someone elderly, disabled, parents with strollers. Usually no one makes a fuss, or even mentions it, someone just gets up and moves down the line. On a bus packed to standing full, a lady helped some French tourists figure out how to signal a stop and cleared the way so they could get out with their luggage. No matter how people are standing at the bus stop, people remember who came first, and a queue magically forms when the bus arrives. Small orderly niceties. People noticing.
And some of them are familiar now, even though I’ve never spoken to them. The construction worker with the worn out boots that looks like Cillian Murphy with a broken nose. The Filipino man that looks like a younger version of my grandfather. The woman who has two phones and is constantly on social media. The chatty woman who likes to talk about her boyfriend in Texas. The mother and daughter duo who both work downtown, but don’t live together. The daily work out fiend, with the unfinished tattoos. The ex-Albertan who used to (physically) throw tires for a living, and smokes too much. They’re part of my days, and I wonder about them if I haven’t seen them in a while.
You never know what you might mean to other people, even fleetingly. You are noticed as you pass through the world.
- The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
- The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente
- The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
- Caraval by Stephanie Garber
- The Arrival by Shaun Tan