This Writing Life
Everybody needs to write - even if it's just a pocket diary. For one thing, it's great to be able to look back and find when you last had your oil changed. On a more personal level, it is good to log your daily experiences and feelings. Sometimes it helps to write a rant and then tear it up.
Then there is the urge to write a story - any kind of story. Personally, I have two self-published science fiction novels out through Xlibris. This is a self-publishing company with a difference - they will sell your book on their own website and place it on the major book websites. They have lots of other services - which cost money. Apparently, either you charm an agent into taking your book on and selling it, or else you spend money. One thing you do is blog about your writing and try to get tips from and share tips with others. That's what I want to do now.
Book outlines: I keep reading about those, but I can't seem to make it work. Over the years, I dreamed up a group of science fiction characters and a giant plot arc. From there, I go about writing a story in spurts of inspiration. The characters have a life of their own and dictate part of the story; for the rest, I start with familiar concepts and situations.
The author who's been the most inspiration to me is one whose works I picked up fairly recently, Eric Flint. He has done a lot of science fiction/fantasy types, but the one that sticks home with me is the 1632 series. Flint is not only an excellent historian, he also has a Labor background that gives him workplace safety details at his fingertips. The really amazing thing about the 1632 phenomenon is that he's invited and encouraged other authors - and even beginners - to play along. Baen Publishing's online 'Grantville Gazette' has led to a series of novels and stories that touch every possible field of alternative history. I'm especially fond of his music specialist, who writes wonderful stories of 20th Century music happening to the 17th Century.
What I've built is a whole alternate universe. Prudent people are now pointing out that we don't have a Planet B - a real problem that I try to help tackle in the real world. In fiction, I've built a multi-planeted human universe with two groups of multi-planeted aliens around it. Here I can play out passions and hint at practical solutions that would raise hackles if I tried to voice them in the real world.
If you write, why and how?