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Oh, Now I Remember...

Almost ten years ago, I was fooling around with HTML, playing with my first web page, when I got this wild hair to do a writing exercise that involved telling a small group of my friends and family that I was going to write a "web novel", posting a chapter a week to my web site, and that if they wanted to follow along they could. I put it under password because, you know, this just might end up being Art, and what if I wanted to try to sell it as a novel or some other hare-brained stunt like that?

So, I did it. It was, in brief, the most fun I had writing in a very long time. I'd always wanted to be a journalist but was too lazy or shy or something and I ended up forgetting to ever be one. So I decided to indulge this fantasy of mine by writing this "web novel" in the voice of a journalist posting dispatches regarding his journey to an unusual place. I had no (or very little) idea of what would happen as I started each chapter, and I certainly didn't know what would come after it. It was a total improv, and it was a blast.

When I'd finished it, I put it aside with the thought of maybe someday revising it. I fiddled with it some, but finally went on to other stuff and eventually I pretty much forgot about it.

Time passed. Some nefarious characters (they know who they are) suggested to me that I start a blog and so, like a fool, I did. Like an even bigger fool, I started having fun writing again. There's something I started a while ago -- some fictiony thing -- that I really liked, but I stopped working on it for some reason. The stuff was good, but I was bad. I got all ambitiony and pretentious or something, so it stopped being fun, and so I eventually wandered away from it. But now, fool that I am, I'm thinking... "Why not dig that out and see if I could have fun with it again?"

So while I was digging out that stuff, I came across the "web novel" thing I was talking about, and it reminded me how much fun I had writing it. And that reminded me why I started writing in the first place. It was fun. It was about making up stories and telling them to people. It wasn't about being a writer. It wasn't about being A Novelist. It wasn't about making a sale. It was about fun. That's all.

I started browsing through this "web novel" and I thought, you know, I'm never going to revise this. I'm too far away from it now. Still, it's fun, though it does seem a bit too naively written for an actual, gen-yoo-ine, honestly-to-goodness published novel. It starts out a bit slow, but it soon picks up. I really like what happens with the characters. There's some slow patches, but a lot of good parts too. I really like that one image in that one chapter, but then later I saw that Japanese director do it in one of his animated films (damn! hate that!). It's a story, despite its flaws, and it just seems a shame to let the poor thing die in a drawer somewhere. Writing it gave me so much pleasure, maybe reading it would give somebody else, one or two people anyway, some pleasure. And anyway... hey, I was making it up as I went along day by day. What do you expect, the Great American SF Novel?

So here's the deal. The campfire is going. Break out some S'mores if you want. Settle down on top of your sleeping bag, and I'll tell you a story.


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Okay, I was supposed to go home half an hour ago. If I had picked this up in a store, to flip through and see if I liked the first couple pages, I would have bought it.

I'm at the City of Bones bit, and *really* have to stop and go home and make dinner. But I am definitely coming back later--it has that lovely, exciting-scary-strange feel of all good first contact stories, and I want to find out what happens next.

I'm seriously pleased you're liking it.

But here's the weird thing... I'm reading it myself again right now, and the further I get into it -- and I obviously didn't intend this because I wrote it ten years ago -- the further I get into it, the more I keep flashing on Iraq.

I think that happens--it's probably one of the Laws. I just finished writing my own novel (yeah, I know, everyone has a novel), which I started in 1997. For a long time, I worried that events would be seen as unrealistic, and that some of the background characters/governments would seem as though they were acting too, well, stupid. Now that I'm nearly ready to send it out, I worry that editors will think I was trying too hard to be relevant to current events.

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