Expanding to 10,001
By Lance Hood, Bluegrass Writers Studio
January second marked the first day of the 2015 Bluegrass Writers Studio Winter Residency, a ten day stretch of reading, writing, and the intermingling of writerly minds. We started the week out strong with a visit from the two-headed giant who singlehandedly revived the space opera genre, James S.A. Corey. The pseudonym, which combines the middle names of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, can make for some awkward sentences, as it’s not often that a single proper noun refers to two people. For the sake of clarity and in an attempt to retain my final shreds of sanity, I’ll henceforth refer to them in other manners. Probably. No promises.
Since these two were our first guests and gave our first set of craft lectures, it also followed that they were the first to present a reading from their work. Though Abraham and Franck do share a common pen name, the one podium, one microphone, and one single copy of the text to be presented would have been more fit for a ventriloquist act than anything else. With that in mind, Abraham unfolded a pair of glasses and took to the reading alone while his other half reclined in the back of the room, listening. The selected text was the prologue to Nemesis Games, the upcoming fifth instalment of The Expanse series.
When I'm asked to sum up the feel of The Expanse in a few words, I’ve often told people that the level of dramatic tension that builds over the course of each book, and even individual chapters, is unmatched. Anyone who sat in on the reading would likely agree. Throughout the prologue that sets the fifth book in motion, we follow a small team on an intense space base assault that takes place over the course of fifteen minutes and about three thousand words—the length that Abraham always aims to hit when penning a chapter. We’re reminded every few paragraphs of the time remaining before the base is to be destroyed and that makes every decision, every step, every breath that much more important. When the team splits up into smaller groups and a piece of equipment falters, eating into precious seconds, we know that many of the voices coming in over the teams' communication system will soon breathe their last.
After concluding the reading, Abraham gave the audience a moment take a breath themselves before summoning his partner to the microphone and opening the floor to questions. The duo offered up a great deal of helpful advice, but what has stuck with me is the concept of muting my internal editor. It’s easy to find yourself unable to write because an idea isn’t good enough, or you don’t know where to start or any other number of reasons that our brains dig up to keep that cursor perpetually flashing in place instead of moving forward without the chance to blink. These problems likely occur because of that little voice in the back of our minds. If we can learn to silence that voice while putting words to the page, instead allowing it to come out only when it should (the editorial phase) we’d all likely get a lot more writing done. This ties in well with another point that the two made: everyone has ten thousand pages of shit to get out of their system and no amount of hand sitting will get them out of the way any faster.
Turn off the editor. Get that shit on paper.
> Nemesis Games is the fifth novel in the Expanse series and is set to release June 2, 2015. Also look for The SyFy series based on the novels later this year. Here's the trailer: http://www.blastr.com/2015-1-15/syfys-ambitious-space-opera-expanse-blasts-first-trailer
Published on January 27, 2015