OMG Writing Is Hard.

So “The Live Lady of Down Town” is out being looked at for publication, and I’ve told a few people about this, but…I have two other sort of linked stories coming. The links being:

  • They’re all about music geekery
  • They’re each set in a different alternate history 1960s
  • The Beatles feature in all of them
  • John Lennon is some kind of total twat in every story

(I’m not really a Beatles fan.)

Anyway, all three stories involve real people, primarily people I’m already familiar with because I love their work or I’m a big geek. “Live Lady” had Delia Derbyshire starring, obviously, and also dragged in Lennon, Brian Jones, Daphne Oram (and assorted Radiophonic Workshop folks in brief), Spike Milligan, Joe Orton, Joe Meek, Jimmy Page, and…I think that’s it. A shitload of Doctor Who references, that was fun.

Most of them didn’t require a lot of research. They’re mentioned or walk on quickly, and I already knew enough about them to do that. Mostly, I spent a lot of time learning more about Delia Derbyshire for “Live Lady of Down Town.” So I could throw her away and make my own Delia Derbyshire. Like you do.

So that took over a year of fretting and reading and wondering why I’d even bother starting that project and watching video of Derbyshire over and over and listening to her talk in interviews and etc. But I got it done, finally, and everybody who reads it loves it, pretty much, and I’m confident it’ll find a publishing home someplace.

The second story, “Califormication,” is a little more complicated, and I’m trying to compress the research time a little better –  a year and a half or so per short story seems excessive, to say the least. This one, I’ve been hitting off and on for a few weeks, now, and this one’s got:

  • Kenneth Anger
  • Ayn Rand
  • Jack Parsons
  • L. Ron Hubbard
  • Brian Wilson
  • Charles Manson

And they’ve all got talking time and motivations and actions crucial to the story, and plus they’re all running competing cults, so all their stories have to interact with each other and build on each other. (Oh yeah, and Lennon’s in it, too – like I said, he’s in all three stories. I didn’t really have to look anything up about him for this, though, as he’s a monkey. You’ll see, it makes sense, it’s all about the Beatles/Beach Boys feud of the late sixties, which goes a little differently in my story.) And Alfred Kinsey and Aleister Crowley also figure prettty heavily, albeit primarily offscreen.

Also: I made Ayn Rand and Kenneth Anger get married. That took some figuring out, given that Anger was a gay occultist and Rand a culty pseudo-rationalist who hated gays. (So much she married one in real life, our world, it seems. No wonder Michelle Bachmann’s fanbase loves Rand so much lately.) Although the similarities are greater than you might think – that’s the thought that kicked this story off, “Jeez, these two should have gotten married and started a cult” during some random reading last year.  >SPARK<

Tonight, I fucking broke through the wall o’ fire and figured out how they all connect in the real world, ours, and the story world, and what the hell they’re all after and fighting over in my 1969 borderline apocalyptic Los Angeles. I have some more stuff to go over and will probably run some related documentaries tonight and tomorrow, but…I hit the point tonight it took me a year and change to find on the last story: where these real people have become my characters, and I can trust them to drive the story around themselves, at least a little.

I’m a big fan of mind mapping, and start out pretty much every creative or real life project of any complexity by making one these days. One. “The Live Lady of Down Town” had one, a BIG one. The novel I’m working on, Them Bones, has one, a much bigger one, even. I work a bunch of shit out that way, then if I need to, I can take one branch and build an outline in the mind map and export it as an outline to work off in Scrivener.

Because I had to detail all this stuff about various real people and the fictional cults and the world of 1969-that-wasn’t, “Califormication” has six different big mind maps going, at this point. All of which, as I look them over now, would make me look psychotic to anybody who just looked at them, unknowing, crawling with invented-and-real interactions and connections between Aleister Crowley and Alfred Kinsey and Charles Manson and Ayn Rand, as they are.  (Plus: John Lennon’s a monkey.)  Huzzah!

Anyway, this one’s a horror story, as opposed to “Live Lady,” which was more or less straight SF.  And I already wrote a couple thousand words on it, and…now I know what to write to fill the other several thousand.

And of course I’ve made a playlist for this thing, and here it is. You could maybe even figure out some of the plot from this playlist, but only if you watch it seven times seven times, backwards.

 I’m starting to freaking love writing. Why was it so terrifying before?


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