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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Finding a Way


In the movie Jurassic Park, based upon the novel by Michael Crichton, there was a line that went "life finds a way." (It has been a long time since I've read that novel and I do not remember if the line was in the novel as well as the movie). The movie line referred to how life will always find a way to adapt and change and expand into the world no matter the circumstances that surround that life, which would otherwise have prevented it.

As a writer, I have been asked the same question as many other writes, "Why do you write?" I have answered it in roughly the same manner as other writers. My answer has always been that writing is like breathing. If I cannot write then I cannot live. Over the last several months, I have been dealing with issues outside of writing that has taken me away from the keyboard. I cannot continue this way. As like all of life, I am adapting.

If this is first time you visited Coffee with David, or I have already taken down the former blog Coffee with David by the time you read this, you may not have seen an article which I will repost here eventually that informed people I have a learning disability that is specific to writing. To overcome that learning disability, at the age of six, I started to learn to type on an old manual typewriter. Since then, as technology evolved, I have learned and sped my typing up considerably. In fact, I can usually type almost at the speed of thought. Over the past several months, having been taken away from the keyboard has made getting the written word down almost impossible. I was born with his desire to write stories, poetry, essays and everything else. I am now taking care of an elderly parent who needs a lot of attention and who makes being able to actually physically write at home impossible (not to mention that she considers writing, never the less reading anything but a newspaper, as frivolous). This is a fact, not an excuse. It is the laying of the ground and understanding of what is happening. So I am left with two choices: either I quit writing or I can find a new method to write with. Since the first choice, quit writing, would be the equivalent of "just go ahead and bury me six feet under for life is not worth living anymore" is not really an option. I choose the latter choice.

Years ago when the software first came out for voice dictation I dabbled with it. I didn't like it. It didn't flow freely and it felt extremely artificial. Furthermore how could it be writing? I thought at the time. Since then I saw an interview with the late Sidney Sheldon, prolific author of many television scripts as well as novels, do a demonstration on writing a novel on live TV.  It was interesting watching him as he paced and dictated the novel to a secretary who wrote down his words. So I decided to give that a try some years ago. I couldn't afford a secretary (I still can't), so I bought some dictation software and tried it. It didn't work that well.

And I tried again.

And again it did not work. But, part of that was the physical restriction of the software. I was more or less "chained" to my computer as I dictated. When I dictate I wanted to walk. No, I needed to walk. I need the locomotion to the feel like I am accomplishing something as I am putting words on virtual paper. This may be the number one reason why I spend most my time typing my stories or essays or poems. (The other reason that I type, due to the disability, is because I cannot read my own handwriting five minutes after I have written it.)

As a result of the last several months and having decided that there is no way on God's green earth I am going to give up writing, I have decided to purchase updated software that allows me to plug a digital voice recorder into the computer. In fact this blog is being written with that method. I know for a fact that not only because of the way I speak but also with the way in which the software works I will need to carefully edit anything it transcribes. I refuse to give up!

With all of this said, it sounds as if I am actually off topic for what the fourth Saturday of the month blog is supposed to be about, which is an update on my writing projects and writing career. Actually it is an explanation as to what I am going to do.

One of the things I seem to have problems with in writing is dialogue. For some reason, all of my characters sound alike. In my head they don't. When I say the dialogue aloud as I prepare to write it, the dialogue does not sound the same with each character. When it gets written down it appears to. With dictation, I am experimenting to see if the characters sound as I want them to better than when I type them. By no means does this mean that I will be successful. This is an experiment. With luck I may have found a way not only to be able to write but to be able to improve my dialogue.

By using this dictation, I plan to complete four novels I am working on and are in various drafts. They are: Dark Medicine, Herne's Law, Sentinel Fleet, and The Devils Bounty Hunter. These four novels have been undergoing multiple revisions (in draft or plot). I plan to have all these drafts reworked this year. (By this year I mean 2012 not within the next two weeks.) What are the stories about?

Dark Medicine was originally a Gothic vampire novel. Looking at the world of literature right now, while the vampire never dies as a subgenre of horror and paranormal, has flooded the market. I am not writing to a market, if I did that I would never get anywhere. In reworking this novel, it allows me to open up new possibilities with the main character than the use of a vampire, and I have decided to play with those possibilities. Sorry to be cryptic (excuse the pun) at this point but in the future hopefully I will go to explain it to you soon.  Meanwhile, Dark Medicine is a novel about a man from Colonial France, cursed and entombed for over 200 years on his family's land, is released and finds himself in a strange new modern world.  All he wants to do is to reclaim his family's land, but as he tries to return home he is in an accident and discovered by an Emergency Room physician who is suffering from PTSD and a delusion that he can solve humanity's mortality issue by using the man as a lab rat, but what hell does the physician unleash and how does he close the box of plagues he has opened?

Herne's law is a Space Western about soldier who is forced to return home from a self-imposed exile after being abandoned by his government on the battlefield.  He considers the laws of his homeland to be as corrupt as the government, so he lives only by his own law, which is to never leave someone in danger that can’t defend themselves.  But when he returns home to help a friend and former crewmate, he finds that adherence to his law complicated by the question: Do you only save those who are friends or do you save an entire people who have a boot of a dictator on their throat.. I will share more on this at a future time.

Sentinel Fleet is a novel I have written with over the last several years. The problem with it is that is space exploration science fiction story, which puts it the same genre as Star Trek.  As a result I must be sure that it doesn't sound like a story in the famous universe created by Gene Roddenberry. Sentinel Fleet is about a veteran of a bloody civil war, who must find a way to heal himself and his crew as they patrol and explore beyond the rim of human controlled space, and is ordered to hunt down a fellow ship whose crew has reportedly mutinied and turned pirate.

The Devil's Bounty Hunter is a paranormal novel/crime drama that I have been finding I am having trouble writing mostly because it opens up old wounds. I'm hoping to this dictation process that I will be able to explore that wound better than I was doing typing into the computer. The Devil's Bounty Hunter is about a consequential moralistic cop who is killed and given a choice by a devil: suffer eternal torture on the fire plains of hell or return to the mortal world and send to hell a soul every forty days—especially the ones the king of Hell wants.  The cop must figure out a way to keep their badge, stay alive and deny the devil what he wants in a celestial Machiavellian game.

These are four of my projects I am working on. There are a few others. As a friend and fellow writer once said very recently, "David is working on more novels at one time than most of us will ever write in our lifetime." I wish I could say he was wrong. I REALLY wish I could say he was wrong. I tend to have many projects going at one time because I have lots of ideas and try to see which one will really rises to the top. Once I have these four novels reworked, I will turn to some of the ones that are sitting in the wings waiting be plotted.

Next week is one of the few fifth Saturdays of a month, which means that I'm posting a special blog on something which I have read. Just looking at the previous sentence doesn't sound like much fun, does it? Trust me next week's blog will ponder the future of humanity. What better way to start the New Year? And the source of blog is not a book, but a lecture given by the "Greatest Explainer" of our day.  (Yes, that was a hint.  If you can't guess who I am talking about, don't worry.  I can promise you that you have either read his work or have read or seen something that has been directly impacted by him.)

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

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