You’ve heard me go on about the various versions of the Mendaihu Universe stories, and how long it’s been since I began it. And since I have no characters or information that starts with V, I figure I’d post a bit of a timeline of writing the trilogy and its numerous versions, iterations and so on. I know some of you have read this somewhere before (either my LJ or elsewhere), so I won’t go into too much detail!
1993, October: Doing laundry, reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing for inspiration, and trying to make sense of my stagnated writing career. Contemplating writing/drawing a comic zine, writing a novel, or a screenplay. The Infamous War Novel still burbling away in the back of my brain. Having watched the first two Gall Force anime OVAs recently, I decide that maybe writing science fiction is the way to go.
1993, 26 November: Vigil is started. My first attempt at writing SF is promising, and yet doesn’t get too far. Possibly focusing too much on trying to maintain the mood and my prose is sadly nowhere near what’s unfolding in my head. Spend a few months working more on the worldbuilding, timelines and possible plot ideas in between my Day Job (register jockey/shipping clerk for Harvard Coop, Longwood branch). Also noodling around with a non-genre story, Two Thousand, which is my attempt at writing a coming-of-age novel. Listening to a lot of music, barely getting by on meager paycheck.
1994, July: Still noodling around with various ideas. Still juggling writing and Day Job (Brigham’s Ice Cream; I can still make you a killer
milkshake frappe if you ask nicely). Hanging out over at my girlfriend’s apartment on South Russell more than my own because it’s got AC and it’s across the street from my job. She and I have been semi-seriously playing around with various ideas growing out of Vigil. One hot and muggy evening I take an as-yet-unused idea of a character popping back in from an alternate reality and decide to use that as an opening. This sparks more conversation about where the story should go, and True Faith is born.
1995, summer: Girlfriend is spending the season back at home with family. I’m now living in an apartment out in Allston, still juggling my writing and my Day Job (various positions at a Sony Theater). Start playing around with an extensive worldbuilding idea connected by multiple novels; the Eden Cycle is born. Decide that during my copious free time and lack of funds I will use my gf’s computer (Windows 3.1!) and transcribe all my writing thus far, in addition to writing new words for TF. Due to various unfortunate circumstances, I move back home with parents at the end of the summer.
1996, April: Somehow despite my sad state of finances, I manage to get a tax return. I decide to spend it (and a few extra funds from family) to buy myself a used PC. It runs on Windows 3.1 and has a monochrome CRT monitor, but that’s all I need. I continue with the transcription project while juggling day job (local radio station!). By the end of the summer I move the PC from my bedroom down to my parents’ basement, which becomes my writing nook for the next nine years. Make various attempts at practice words at least a few times a week to get myself used to daily writing.
1997, 9 March: No longer speaking to now-ex-gf, True Faith having stalled due to same (and having run out of decent plot ideas anyway), decide to start over from scratch. Some elements of Vigil and True Faith — and very small dregs of the Infamous War Novel — are saved, reimagined and completely repurposed into a new story. Make a decision to get to Day Job (HMV Records) an hour early to hang out in the mall food court to write longhand. Writing finally turns into a daily habit that never goes away. The Phoenix Effect is born, with nearly all new characters, the Vigil team now hiding in the periphery.
1998, August: Now writing during the daytime and transcribing the new words at night when I get home. TPE is finished by month end. Begin my first attempts at submitting to various publishing houses, with no luck whatsoever. That doesn’t bring me down, though…I decide the best thing to do is to keep writing. Numerous false starts on a sequel longhand while working on more TPE revision. New novel beginnings, major worldbuilding changes.
2000, summer: So much revision, so little to show for it. Feeling frustrated, I decide that a major rewrite of TPE is in order. I’ve come to the conclusion that the prose is extremely weak and thin, that I hadn’t expanded that much from the longhand original. Instead I decide to completely rewrite the story, expanding on every single scene and discarding a hell of a lot of chaff. A Division of Souls begins.
2001, April: A switch in shift at Day Job (Yankee Candle) now gives me a truckload of time to work on writing. Now dedicating two solid hours to new words on a daily basis. Major expansion on worldbuilding, new characters, and planning out second and third book in trilogy. My Day Job has a bit of slow time here and there, enough for me to brainstorm a few scenes or chapters ahead on scrap paper so I’m well prepared by the time I head home to write it.
2002, Summer: Finishing up ADoS first draft and starting on a bit of revision to include a recently created conlang for the universe, Anjshé.
2002, November 11: Begin sequel, The Persistence of Memories, and finish the first draft exactly one year later. The Balance of Light started a day or so later with its original name, The Process of Belief. It starts off well…
2003, summer: Worried…TBoL has stalled and I’m starting to lose track of where I want to go with it. Day Job (still YC) starting to lose its luster due to management and work shakeups. Still, I soldier on. Start in on Love Like Blood just to keep myself busy. Work on TBoL is in fits and starts at this point.
2005, March: Move down to New Jersey, and my writing habits start wavering due to a lot of (quite positive!) personal events. Day Jobs include office temp work, a significant change from years of physical work. At this point I think I may have lost the plot, literally. Can’t quite figure out how to finish up the story.
2005, December: Another big move, this time out to San Francisco! First apartment on Stockton Street, with my desk facing one of the bay windows. A few years of dithering between projects like LLB and other ideas, while keeping the trilogy in the back of my mind.
2008 into 2009: I decide to share what I have of the trilogy on a friends-locked blog, partly to share it with a few beta readers and also to give it another serious read-through after far too long. By the time I finish the posts in late 2009, we move to our current place and I know exactly how to finish it. I return to my old YC habit of plotting out a few chapters/scenes ahead of time and working on them. At this point it feels like forever since I’ve written anything of import, so I’m quite excited!
2010, January 14: The Balance of Light and thus the trilogy is finally FINISHED! Yay!
2010 – 2015: A few years of other projects, but many, many months of reading, rereading rerereading, rererereading, etc, the entire trilogy, to become so familiar with the entire story again. Much revision, rewriting, adding new scenes, getting rid of some old ones, editing, getting some beta reading commentary. A hell of a lot of background work. My writing style and quality finally seems to be going in the right direction again.
2015, summer: Thinking it might be a good idea to self-publish the series. I’d done a lot of research on it, weighed the pros and cons, and felt it would be the right step to take. Immediately started an intensive revision/edit of ADoS with the aim of release on 3 September — the date the first scene of the book takes place.
2016, April 15: The Persistence of Memories self-published!
2016, April 26: …I spend far too long typing this up for a silly but fun blog challenge, but prove to myself once again that it was so worth sticking with the project after all these years. 🙂