Monday, 3 October 2016

I CAN SEE THE MATRIX (or my Beautiful Mind moment)

Two weeks ago something clicked and I finally, finally understood an element to the science I'd been studying.  It was an aspect that I had been struggling with.  It's funny how a different approach (namely by a different author) can make all the difference.  I was introduced to it via a new analogy and bam!  There it was.  I got it.  I had a Beautiful Mind moment where everything added up and it was awesome.
(I'd just like to say that the concept I understood was somewhat simple when compared to other elements of quantum mechanics but my brain completely and utterly refused to get to grips with it, so there).
So I saw the Matrix, felt good about myself for a good two or three minutes, and then reality came and smacked me between the eyes again.

My book makes no sense.

The science does not work.

Bollocks.

I remember reading (or hearing?) a rule that applies to science fiction writing.  Provided the rest of the story is sound, the audience will normally overlook (or go with) one or two things that may not be entirely factually accurate, or that remain unexplained.
Let me elaborate:  I've recently rewatched Moon.  It's awesome, I love it, but there are, of course, a few things that are never fully explained, probably because it would ruin the pacing and aren't particularly necessary to understand in order to "get" the film.  The most glaring omission (by that I mean the most present one that you are confronted with throughout) is the existence of gravity within the base the main character inhabits.  There probably is an explanation and it probably makes sense.  But I'm happy not to sit there and obsess about it because the rest of the film feels right to me and doesn't force me to make any big logic jumps.  
(As I write this I am now obsessing that this is a terrible example - but go with it, please?  I'm just trying to make a point!)
So what I am saying is that, provided the science in the book (or movie) makes sense (at least, the type of sense a layman like myself and most of the audience believe to be correct) then you tend to forgive something that may not add up, or may be left unexplained.
Unfortunately, I'm aiming for hard sci-fi with proper, full on, no-holds-barred science.  So the glaring issues in my book just are unforgivable.
And, honestly, even if it wasn't hard sci-fi, the jumps I make in terms of what is actually possible would probably push this book into the fantasy side of sci fi.  Maybe I am being a little too harsh there, but really, it's just not okay.  Not good enough.

So I scrapped it!


If anyone reads this blog regularly (or when I do post) then they'll know that I recently cracked 25k words and that I was proud of that.  I am still proud of that, but it isn't going to stop me from shelving this book and starting again.

And start again I shall.

The Matrix moment was worth it, even if it meant that I realised I had to give this story up.  At the time, and for about a week afterwards, I was lost in this awful mire of frustration and confusion where I knew that I wanted to write something, I felt I had it in me, but I couldn't figure out what it was.

Wait for it...you know what's coming!

Yes - I worked through it.  I have a new story.  And I think it makes sense!
It may not, of course.  I may be writing a very similar blog post in a few weeks time, lamenting my foolishness.  Sure, that would suck, but for the moment I feel more positive and on more solid ground than I was before.  And it's okay that I've lost a few month's worth of productivity, because the process to get here was also worth it.

CAVEAT:

I want to apologise before writing any more.  These blog posts are a little formulaic - they generally contain a story of me realising something bad and then working through it, ending on a positive, upbeat note. 
Yikes.


What I offer in these posts is a cut down version of the mental process, so in a few short paragraphs you reach the end without having to come on a magical journey of self-discovery with me.  Believe you me, the middle bits when I realise that I suck at science really, well, suck.
But I keep on going, because writing is like...super important.  It's something I just have to do.  Annoyingly upbeat, yes?
Yes.

(I've just realised that these posts actually end up like the plot to most every episode of House.  Bad thing happens, team works through it, team nearly loses faith, team works it out, team saves life.  It's like that except for the whole saving a life thing.  And most of the other parts.  Okay, maybe my blog posts aren't like an episode of House.  Maybe closer to an episode of Postman Pat.  I think I'm still giving myself and this blog entirely too much credit.)  

Check back next week for more vomit-inducing content!

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