I don’t think my writing process has really changed all that much, but the longer I keep doing this, the more of what was once subconscious becomes accessible to my conscious mind. The old “I have a feeling this is going somewhere” or “This isn’t going to work out” feelings about things I was writing — which were usually pretty accurate; it’s not that I was any more wrong than usual — have become steadily more nuanced until I’ve started to be able to unpack them into why.
Take Dayna, for example. She’s now rapidly pulling ahead in the NaNo stakes, because realising that I needed to do First Contact, well, first spurred me on to finally think about and start to untangle all the various aspects of the First Contact story, and that, like designing the blueprints for a building, is letting me see at least some of what this construction could look like — and what it could look like is good.
First Contact is the story of how humanity met the Galactic Federation which they will one day join. But it’s also the story of a dedicated cop, a mentally-teenage android, and what it means to be a person. It’s the story of how we react to it suddenly being proven that we’re neither alone in the universe nor actually particularly special save in the same way that any sapient species is, but seen from what at least initially appears to be the sidelines rather than dead-on. It’s all about personhood, and the understanding that people not exactly like ourselves are still people too.
That’s the first point on the Grand Arc I mentioned previously, and it’s a good one. And those pieces are starting to come together like that scene in Iron Man where Tony Stark flattens all the random-looking bits of tracing paper together and suddenly the plans for that first suit appear. (What?) Suddenly I can see the story, see the shape of it, even if I don’t quite know what the top of this building is going to end up looking like yet. I see how the foundations will be laid out and where the supports will go and I can confirm that it should support the architect’s proposed height. All of that used to be subconscious, limited to a good feeling or a bad one, and now here it is.
And all that slightly accidental work, working out how everything went together and how it needed to fit, has left me knowing that I can build this and eager to get started, get the scaffolding up.
Which means that, whether or not I do actually decide on this one in the end, my next step needs to be researching how the actual police force works…