22 April 2011

Another stalled story.

I am soliciting feedback, queries, compliments, whatever--I know where this is going eventually, and I like what I have, but have been stalled for MONTHS. You'd think unemployment would be good for my writing, but it turns into one more failing. (P.S. Yup, it's sci-fi. V. excited by the prospect.)

     They knew they weren’t the first. They were graduate students, after all, in an unpopular department at that; all the really exciting research went to the tenured and their lovers and lackeys, so all that was left for their group thesis was recapitulation. “The last botanical survey of the Forest was six decades ago,” Archon Venk had said, “and that wasn’t at all a proper one—they just sent some seercraft overhead, snipped some cuttings from the canopy.” Which they knew; there was a sickly bleakblade bush sitting in Venk’s office, brought back by a former dean and watered maybe once a semester. “It’s been two centuries since Fintzer’s original expedition.” Which was how they knew what the bleakblade was supposed to look like. Back then, seers could only draw their observations, and so almost all scientific illustration was an unsettling mix of crude and passionless; but one of Fintzer’s seers had had real talent, and she’d produced the inky, sleek images that gave the shrub its modern name. “You’ll have all the latest techniques, you’ll be able to study the biosphere as a whole, alive, instead of relying on recordings and specimens! It has the potential to be very exciting.”
            On the lips of an administrator, potential was a sweet and hopeful word. Jaina, Lett, and Inar, however, were scientists (or hoping to be), and thus couldn’t help but be ruefully reminded of the physics sense of the word—how the politely-sipped cups in their hands, held against gravity, were full of potential energy as well as overbrewed tea; how that energy could indeed be dispersed with a crash and spill and shards, but instead simply whispered away as they filed out and placed them back on the cart. Similarly: sure, a modern expedition to the Forest might result in discoveries and prizes and professorships. More likely, they would only confirm previous data, cobble together a lackluster thesis, receive the lowest possible passing grade, and go on to work off their debt in windowless offices.
            “Maybe I’ll have a garden,” Lett said morosely. “Or my co-workers will just come to me to diagnose their houseplants.”
            “Like Venk’s bleakblade?” snorted Inar. “Nids. Hardy ones, too. I’ll bet they only ever get a drink when someone pours out that godawful tea.”
            Jaina pushed open the door to their shared office, biting back her natural inclination to see the bright side. It was improbable that their trip would turn up anything new, anything to build a career on. Still, the Forest! She’d had a book of indigenous folktales as a child, and all her favorites took place there: Tej and the Flowerbird, the Five Lost Monks, the leave-the-light-on stories of the Blind Tiger and its deadly glare. The part of her that was still a little girl (the same part, she suspected, that had led her into botany because she’d enjoyed picking wildflowers) was thrilled at the prospect of standing among those ancient trees, listening to birdsong not heard for hundreds of years.
            It was called The Forest not because it had never been named, but because it had been named so often; native records from as far off as Iothia spoke of dozens of attempted and failed settlements on its peninsula. Before that, folklore and ballads and proverbs referenced the Forest in unmistakable terms: bordered by a mountain range in the east, the ocean to the west, it was hard to reach and, it seemed, even harder to remain. Historians puzzled over this—indeed, the journey was difficult, but the soil was rich, and the easy access to the sea should have meant thriving trade for a port colony. Yet cultures and tribes had tried for millennia to establish such a town with no success, and though the documentation existed, it proved little logical help.
            “Most of the legends are nonsense, of course, all monsters and massacres out of the blue.”


  1. I love this! You've got so many neat snips of world-building. And the tea/potential energy--verra cool. This feels Connie Willis-y to me with the wry humor and the clever language (totally meant as a compliment). How much have you written?

  2. Zounds, that is a *heck* of a compliment! Story proper, I've only got this written. I have some notes (what's in the Forest, how the seers work) and an extremely vague plot outline--it's a journey plot, old and straightforward.

    I...guess I don't have to write in order? Is that what real novelists do?

  3. As far as I know, there are as many ways to write a novel as there are books. Every story comes out differently. Loretta Chase tinkers constantly with her drafts. Stephenie Meyer writes whatever scene seems most fun to her. Stephen King plows through his stories at a strict 2,000 words a day. These are all people who have done pretty well for themselves. :)

    So, my .02 is, write in whatever way keeps the story flowing for you. I'd love to read more.


Creative Commons License
Muse at Highway Speeds by http://museathighwayspeeds.blogspot.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.