The loss of John Glenn earlier this month hit me hard. I set down my WIP and started a story based on how John always told his wife Annie “I’m just going down to the corner store for a pack of gum,” when he was leaving for a mission. She’d always reply “Don’t be long.” Their love story was truly one for the ages.
I didn’t get a story out in The Cities of Luna this month. It’s the first time in over a year that’s happened. I didn’t make any big apologies or explanations on social media. In fact, this is the only public mention I have made of it. It was more than my own feelings of grief over the loss of a true American hero; there were many factors involved. I should be back on schedule in January. I’m planning to do a print version of the collection too— more about that later.
I’ve been looking seriously at my various projects, the ones on the shelf and the ones I’m actively working on. I believe The Cities of Luna has not yet found its audience, but it is a heartfelt endeavor that deserves a chance to be discovered. With the current tech moving steadfastly toward space, this has the possibility of being something big.
One short-term goal I have is to enter the Zebulon, an annual writing contest sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers, my local group. I had originally planned to use this year’s NaNoWriMo story, (I failed this year, only a few thousand words, but I still plan to finish it) but then I realized that one of the rules is that it can’t be related to anything already published, and it was the second story of Tumbleweed. The first story was serialized on the All For Science site. After giving it some thought, I decided to go with the same theme I used to enter the Futurescapes Writing Contest, in which I am one of ten semifinalists. I do relationships well, and that story centers on how family relationships are affected in the near future when the main character has a chance to go to space. In the short story With Her Blessing the MC is a man with three grown daughters. The new story, Twenty-First Century Airship Princess, is about a young married woman planning to start a family when the opportunity comes up for her to go to space. I’m hand-writing it, which I do sometimes for short stories, but this is the first time I’m going to do it for something novel-length.
And then Carrie Fisher died.
Whereas John Glenn began his heroic deeds before I was born, I was in Kindergarten when Star Wars, A New Hope came out. My hair was long enough to wind up into Princess Leah buns. I grew up geek, and Carrie Fisher continued to inspire not just that world, but she was also a vocal feminist and advocate of mental health. She also had an irreverent, wicked sense of humor that was often spot-on regarding the foibles of humanity.
The main character in Twenty-First Century Airship Princess is named after Princess Leah, and she gets a lot of her chutzpah from Carrie Fisher. In the pages I’d already written before she was hospitalized, I’d already described her as spending her childhood cosplaying as the Star Wars princess, even taking a brief foray in the metal bikini in her college days. The term princess has been redefined, and that started with Princess Leah’s heroics in A New Hope.
Suddenly, what I’d started writing as an homage just felt…off. Everything felt off. She was only sixty; she shouldn’t have left us so soon. We still needed her. It didn’t feel right to be writing a character who had so much of Leah and Carrie in her…blatantly so.
I wanted to put the story down. I wanted to change it so it wasn’t so obviously a reference to her. But even in just a few pages, I’d already established a character I loved who embodied everything I liked best about the character and the woman. Rewriting it would have been much more than a simple tweak of name and quirks. I would lose my character.
So now I have new inspiration. I may be afraid, but I’m going to do it anyway. What’s important is not my fear, but the action I take. I don’t have to wait to be confident. I’ll just do it, and eventually the confidence will follow.