The term ‘lacuna’ means a couple of things. (Etymologically, it comes from the Latin for ‘lake’.) People use it generally in the sense of ‘gap’. From this we get lacunar amnesia, where the individual completely forgets an episode in their life (though they may retain learning from that period). We get the literary lacuna; in this sense, we mean a piece that is missing from a manuscript. Beowulf contains lacunae. As do many full length novels.
I’ve been thinking about an episode in The Amber Rooms where (spoiler alert) our own Saskia Brandt jumps into the body of a parallel universe Saskia Brandt. The parallel is called Saskia Beta. This Saskia Beta is on a mission with a mysterious agency (perhaps governmental, perhaps private) that sends people backwards in time for unknown reasons. The agency is called Meta. Our heroine, Saskia Brandt, left the body of this Saskia Beta with the mission incomplete. Our Saskia continued her story as we read it in The Amber Rooms. Of Saskia Beta, we hear no more.
A couple of months ago, I decided that I wanted to find out more about the mission of Saskia Beta. What was her goal? What is Meta, for her? I’m looking to fill in what you might call a lacuna from the manuscript of The Amber Rooms. So doing, I’m investigating, along with Saskia Beta, her lacunar amnesia of those days when her body was possessed by the first Saskia.
It is. But complex good (The Big Sleep; Fire Walk With Me), I hope.
Anyhoo, I’ve been keeping a private journal of the writing process as part of a wider project to get at creative processes in writing (in my day job, I’m a psychologist). The journal is private only because it contains spoilers for the new story.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting extracts from this journal. I’ll redact some of the spoilers. My aim is to give you some insight into how I put the story together. Without getting too meta (ooh, see what I did there?) I’ve included some comments about the comments.
Draft cover incoming.
March 28th, 2013
So, this is the first episode of my journal. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. The main issue is the choice of what to include. These choices will probably shape up over the course of the work; I shouldn’t think too much about them now.
Oh so mysterioso.
Let’s start with what’s worrying me. In order of importance, I suppose I could start with audience reception. It’s the case that, thus far, I’ve been lucky to have some readers who liked Déjà Vu (book one of the Saskia Brandt series) and Flashback (book two). However, reaction to book three (The Amber Rooms) has been mixed. The book moves away from the high-tech feel of the first book until we’re almost into literary territory (shock; not to say horror). I don’t feel bad about doing this on one level. After all, I consider The Amber Rooms to be a better book. But I’m saddened that some of the people who were looking forward to the work (for more than a year in some cases) found it disappointing.
I remember one guy who wrote that The Amber Rooms was the biggest disappointment of the year. That was depressing to read.
So that is foremost in my mind as I make the decisions behind Red Star Falling.
I’d like to have an impact not dissimilar to Déjà Vu but with the quality of The Amber Rooms. Hah! Like that will ever happen.
Looking back, from a 90%-done perspective, I’d say I’m approaching something like that. There are the ‘literary’ things that I always struggle to keep a lid on (certain repeating metaphors; visual images I return to) but the story should also be a kinetic, third-act-type of story in the mold of Déjà Vu.
Time pressure is another issue. I never have enough time to write. And because my day job involves using a computer, I often sit down to write with a certain amount of fatigue. I’ve tried writing using pen and paper but it’s not quite the same. Rather too manual, and not how I like to write.
What else? There’s a financial aspect. The cover I plan to use involves a picture that will be quite expensive to buy. Is it worth it for something that will a short story alone?
Ultimately, I went for a much cheaper option, which the image you see in this post.
Then there’s the wider business side of things. I’m trying to arrange an editor for Red Star Falling and there are plenty of machinations involved. They take away from the writing time and are quite annoying, but… I do know from experience that it is better to be aware of all these processes than to cede control to a third party who might very well fuck it up.
That’s quite enough for one day, Ian.
Yes, I believe it is. Such language! I hope Dad’s not reading this.
The next journal entry, which I’ll publish in a few days, will look at some of the technical aspects of the writing the story.