I might have finished my novel, The Book of Astrophilia.
I say might…it is hard for me to know when something is finished. I’ll rewrite forever. And I haven’t had a beta reader or anyone give me feedback, and that is part of the process. So is it finished-FINISHED?
Well, I’ve done what I can do.
I might change the title. The book in the title disappeared from the story several drafts back, so the title doesn’t exactly make sense. But no other title has come to mind.
I have pages of backstory and few pages for a sequel, but that’s getting ahead of myself.
When is a story finished? Will it mean anything to readers? Does the plot hang together? Will anyone care about the characters?
The story takes place in another version of our universe. So, there’s an Earth. But there’s space travel and planets uninhabitable here have cities there. (It’s my universe; I’ll make life where I want to.)
When I was a teen (in the 80s), most sci-fi I read seemed to be about men. Stories would imagine humanities future and still women were on starships serving tea. What? That’s the future? There may have been sci-fi novels about interesting and diverse women in space, but I didn’t come across those books for a long time.
I didn’t want a story that had to announce what it was doing–hey! Women are doing all the cool things! I just wanted women to do the cool things as if, well, of course they are. The ship’s captain, the engineer, several security guards are women, and at no point does someone say, “What? But you’re a woman!” Because no one in this universe thinks it’s weird.
When I started writing, I didn’t intend to for the two main characters to fall in love. I wasn’t sure about it since I’m a cis het woman and certain stories aren’t mine to tell. Yet, this is my universe and there’s no homophobia (or transphobia) in it. So, it isn’t a story about someone coming to terms with their sexuality. That isn’t my story to tell, for sure. I wanted a universe where the blight of these phobias just don’t exist, and it’s fine to say that, but if all the main characters are straight…then what? Then it feels like lip service to an idea.
That said, the characters do what the characters do. (The debate about whether or not characters have any control of the story or if it is just the author being ridiculous and dodging responsibility or being woo-woo is for another post. Suffice it to say, the more I develop a character, the more certain choices seem inevitable. Granted, it probably didn’t help that when I first thought of the character Tasanko Fray, I had Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness in mind.) And so, I realized the characters were in love. I can’t imagine the story any other way.
I’d like to hire a sensitivity reader. (Some people get their knickers in a twist about the very idea of sensitivity readers. Well, whatever. If I wrote a story set in Paris, and I could have someone who has lived in Paris read it and give me feedback on whether or not I’d gotten Paris right, I would totally do that. As far as I’m concerned, a sensitivity is that, but for people.) I’d love for someone to point out things I’m oblivious to. The story takes place on various planets. There is no America in the story. (It’s my universe, y’all!) The countries don’t exist as we know them. And people are from other planets and I want ways to indicate that without resorting to clichés, stereotypes, and other garbage I might not realize I’m tossing around. I want someone with perspective to notice. I like to think I haven’t, but it’s irresponsible to assume. It does neither the story nor readers any favors. But I can’t afford a sensitivity reader, so…
I hate it every time my feeling of I-can’t-afford-not-to comes up against my bank account. (That describes a lot of life these days, don’t you think?) Well, no one said the writing life was going to be easy. Anyway, I’ll share the story on Patreon. After that? I don’t know.
I am happy it’s done though! Sort of done. Done-ish. Finished‽
OMG. I have to move on to the next story.
Which one? The list is ridiculous. I guess I’ll stare at them and see which characters speak to me. Maybe they know what happens next.