• Daily Life

    two weeks of #100DaysOfWriting

    Okay, okay, it was two weeks until yesterday, but it’s close enough. Today’s day 15 (assuming I can count, which I couldn’t last week when I gave us two Day Eights…), and I’ve managed to write every day, which is pretty unusual for me.

    I’ve done about…mmm. 7000 words, which isn’t really very many (particularly after last month’s, what, 65K+ and November’s …65K…?) but, you know, possibly the 120K in the past two months is taking its toll. Although really it’s more that I’ve…

    So my projects this month were going to be proposals for trad pub projects. I started with one which is charming and delightful and would be lots of fun to write, and hauled myself through most of the synopsis before I had a Moment Of Clarity about what I’m trying to achieve, career-wise, in 2018. It amounts to Reinvention Of Self, and there are several irons in the fire in that regard.

    Anyway, the project I’d gotten 80% of the way through synopsizing was a cute little CE Murphy style book, but a thing that happened, career-wise, after I wrote the last Walker Papers, was that both of my publishers at the time told me they wanted the Breakout Book from me.

    As you might imagine, I also wanted the Breakout Book. I sent them many proposals. (Seriously. A lot.) They kept saying, “No, this isn’t what we’re looking for.” Eventually I said “okay, look, give me some guidelines.”

    One of them, memorably, did so. They wanted me to write for their adult fiction line (as opposed to young adult, not, like, adult films). They wanted something without many science fiction or fantasy elements. They wanted something with “wide general appeal, like…Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games.”

    I pointed out, with some frustration, that one could not reasonably ask me for non-fantasy/sf adult fiction with wide general appeal and simultaneously use *explicitly* SFF YA that gained wide general appeal through grass roots as an example. They, unfortunately, could not offer any greater clarification.

    Shortly thereafter (and unrelatedly :)) my editor there got laid off, leaving me without much point of contact, and things have been heavily self-published-focused since, although I’ve been proposing things to agents and editors pretty regularly in the interim.

    The point of all this is I’d been working on this charming proposal, and I realized: this is not a thing to reinvent myself with. It’s a CE Murphy book, which is fine, but it’s not something my old publishers would have bought. It’s not The Breakout Book.

    So I thought, okay, if my goal here is really to reinvent myself, then I need to go big or go home. And there are two projects I have that fall under that category; one is an epic fantasy, and the other is…The Climate Change Series.

    You know. The series I’ve been talking about for nigh unto a decade. The one I’ve taken stabs in the dark at, and backed away from. The one I’m…scared to write.

    Here’s the truth, mes amis: I am not afraid of writing. I’ve never really understood people saying “this book scared me,” or talking about writing through the fear, or digging deep to, I don’t know, write with blood and marrow.

    I mean, yes, in every book I write there’s a period of time where I think I’ve screwed it up and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written and I can’t actually write and I’m not doing the story justice and everybody will hate it. This, as far as I can tell, is entirely normal writer behaviour. But overall, writing doesn’t scare me. I’m confident of the storytelling choices I make (even when they cause readers to throw a book across the room, as memorably happened with one reader at the end of COYOTE DREAMS. Later, she said, she got EVEN MADDER…because she realized I’d been right with how I told the story, EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T WHAT SHE WANTED. Deeply offensive behaviour, that! :)). At the end of a book, I feel I’ve done it justice. I’ve done the best I could, I’ve gotten it onto the page as well as I can, I’ve conveyed what I wanted to convey.

    I am not *afraid* of writing. I really barely even understand what it means to be afraid of writing.

    I am *terrified* of writing the climate change books.

    (Michelle Sagara, who (correctly) thinks I’m generally weirdly confident for a writer, cheerfully told me that my nerves about the climate change books is the most normal writer-behaviour she’s ever seen from me. I’m like BUT THIS IS AWFUL, HOW DO YOU EVEN DEAL WITH IT?!?!?!?!?! She did not have a helpful answer. :))

    So I’ve concluded that if I want to go big, I need to…face this thing. Do the climate change books. Even if they terrify me, which they do. (I’m afraid of dropping the ball. I’m afraid of failing my…vision? of hope and change. I’m…I’m just afraid, and that’s…I have no tools to deal with that!) I have…I have a lot of notes and some story excerpts and some…ideas. What I need to do is spend more time than usual wrangling them into plot and story arc and, probably at least as importantly, decide where my limits are, because part of the problem is that climate change is huge, and I’ve come to realize recently that I know a great deal more about it than your average joe, and the weight of that knowledge is part of what’s stymying me: it’s hard to narrow down my focus when I’m too aware of the scope. Which is overwhelming, and cannot, realistically, be tackled in one series.

    Which all means that instead of throwing myself headlong into a bunch of smaller proposals for the month/100 Days Of Writing, I’ve had to completely recalibrate my goals. I did finish the charming little proposal, because I’d put enough work in that finishing it was only another few hours’ worth of effort, but it’s now sidelined. I started writing another short story for KISS OF ANGELS, the Patreon-first Old Races short story collection, which is nearly done and if I finish 2-3 more stories this month I can get it out to the world pretty soon. I’m going to be writing a new book in February/March (either the next Heartstrike book or the next Austen Chronicle, I haven’t decided yet), for self-publishing purposes, and I’m going to be working on the climate change series in the background for the first quarter of the year. Or longer, if it takes longer.

    …anyway, so that’s why I’ve done about 7000 words this month instead of 30K or something. O.O :)

  • CEMurphy

    Futuretripping: Los Estados Nuevos

    June 1, 2017: United States Climate Alliance formed with 3 charter members. Within hours, 7 more signed on with 11 more expressing interest.

    Sept 2017: The USCA, backed by 37 member states, Puerto Rico, & Washington DC, is seen as the framework for pursuing the future liberals want.

    Dec 2017: All but 4 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, & Alaska) have joined the USCA. The member states demand a constitutional convention.

    March 2018: Denied a convention by an increasingly authoritarian federal government, the USCA member states unanimously secede. Alaska, Oklahoma and Alabama join them.

    July 4, 2018: The New United States of America government–colloquially known as Los Estados Nuevos–is formed with additional new states of Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and Guam. Much of the framework of the original Constitution is retained; amendments introducing, among other things, campaign reform, equal rights, and anti-gerrymandering strictures are passed. Tens of thousands flee to Texas, now an independent country.

    March 6, 2024: Texas petitions to join LEN. The New United States grandfathers it in, but as the 53rd, not the 28th, state of the union. “Remember the 28th” becomes both a battle cry for those who wish to restore the old United States, and an acknowledgement by the new government of necessary change within a republic for it to carry forward.

    July 4, 2026: On the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Los Estados Nuevos introduce restitution to African and Native Americans. The Navajo Nation submits a petition to be recognized as an independent entity within the LEN, and for the first time in 150 years, the interior boundaries of the United States, new or old, are re-drawn.

    July 4, 2028: Climate warming has held at 1.68 degrees Celsius for two years. Over 170 countries are now functioning on 90-95% green energy. Los Estados Nuevos has reached a 76% renewable energy threshold, disappointing compared to China’s 89% and Germany’s long-held 98% standard. The United States Climate Alliance, still a functioning unit within the LEN, vow to meet Germany’s benchmark by 2030….

    (The flag:
    the colors and the stars & stripes, of course, represent the traditional USA, but the reduction of the stripes is indicative of moving toward the future. the stars are meant to be a kind of sunrise/starburst, intended to indicate Los Estados Nuevos’ dedication to green energy/forward thinking/a new day. the base of the starburst/sun is the original 10 signators of the USCA, with the rays being the later signatories/rest of the states.

    it’s hard to make a sunrise out of stars, ironic as that may be. i’m still not really satisfied but GOSH I’VE STAYED UP ALL NIGHT AND I’M GOING TO DAMN BED NOW)

    (wait, before i go, and before people ask: i’m actually thinking about revising this timeline some (it’s a little optimistic) and using it as the basis for the near future/climate change/SF thing i’ve been thinking about for so long. i’ve been utterly stymied…well, for a long time, but particularly since nov 9, and this feels…possible, as a direction to go in…)

  • Climate Change

    the changing arctic

    “Daunting as the future Arctic looks to be, it may in fact be much worse. What we think we know about the future of the region may be grossly underestimated because scientists are uncomfortable talking about or putting pen to predictions that are not backed by 95 percent certainty.” — from The End & Beginning of the Arctic.

    This is precisely what’s concerned me since (before, but pointedly, since) the collapse of the Canadian ice shelf mentioned in this article. I understand the politics of science well enough to understand why scientists are reluctant to make draconian estimations, but when their predictions had previously imagined shelves like that taking decades or centuries to collapse, and instead it happened _inside an hour_–a blink of an eye in human terms, nevermind _geologic_ terms–it is clear that a conservative nature of prediction does the future no favors.

    I knew a lot of what’s in the article, because personal obsession, but this really puts it all on the line. And it’s too late to stop. At this point the very very best we can do is mitigate it.

  • Climate Change

    He’s Gonna Send the Water From Zion

    Recent climate reports say the Western Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS) has reached a tipping point. Comparatively warm water is coming up and melting it from beneath where it’s attached to land, and all that’s keeping it from working its way into a lower-than-sea-level valley where it can loosen the entire WAIS is a granite bulge.

    There is no stopping it from cresting that bulge; the only question now is when. At the moment the predictions are that water will continue to rise on the order of millimeters per year for two centuries as six major, leading WAIS glaciers melt, putting about 1.2 meters (4 feet) of water into the oceans. Without those glaciers in place, the rest of the shelf becomes vulnerable, and its melting and/or displacement means an additional 2.4-3.6 meters (8-12 feet) of water in the oceans.

    For some visual reference here, check out an artist’s photorealistic renditions of US cities after 3.6m of water rise.

    In the meantime, Greenland is shedding water into the ocean at a rate of about .55 millimeters a year, with its ice loss being responsible for about 4% of the approximately 18cm (7 inches) of water rise over the past century. Scientists are looking at Greenland’s melt as the possible most worrisome problem of the 21st century, as, if all its ice should go, the sea level would rise by over 7 meters (23 feet).

    But I’m pretty sure that what most people see is “.5m” (.01 inches) and what most people think is “Pffft.” I mean, come on: continents are vastly more dramatic than that. Given average continental drift speeds, the continents have moved 2 meters (6.6 feet) in my lifetime. SIX AND A HALF FEET. ENTIRE LAND MASSES have moved SIX AND A HALF FEET in the past 40 years, and scientists want people to get excited about 7 inches of water rise in a hundred years?

    Well, personally, I sure as hell want people to get excited about that. Not because 18cm is all that much rise (except it is if you live somewhere low-lying: do not imagine that that gradual creep of water did not affect what happened in New Orleans with Katrina), but because time and again we are seeing that climatologists, even when they’re getting bolder, keep underestimating how fast things can change. A few years ago an ice shelf came off Greenland–an event ice-chasers thought would take decades–in a couple of hours. That’s a blink in the terms of a human lifespan, nevermind geologic time; geologic time can’t even account for something that fast. And that’s not the only example; the WAIS data mentioned above is exactly the same kind of surprise to the scientists studying it. It’s proving to be far more sensitive to temperature changes than previously expected. The list goes on, too.

    So when I read these articles citing a century or two centuries, and when I look at the drastic changes being seen in my home state, I can’t help revising the numbers downward by orders of magnitude. If two hundred years becomes two decades, or a century becomes ten years, those microcosmic increases that most people can’t be bothered to worry about are suddenly going to be forgotten in the deluge.

    The world is changing, goddamn it, and humanity, with its astonishing ability to adapt, is still for the most part enjoying its bread and circuses. We can do better than that. We should do better than that, because it doesn’t matter if it falls down or rises up: the water is coming from Zion.

  • Fiery Sunset
    CEMurphy,  Climate Change

    Last Days of Ancient Sunlight

    In the near future, a visionary leader brings Ireland to the forefront of green technology while in Alaska, communities displaced by the rising seas struggle to rebuild without losing their sense of self. Disparate worlds collide when fracked-out gas fields in middle America collapse, finally destabilizing the last of the old-world power regime in The Last Days of Ancient Sunlight.

    Here begins a few weeks of probably-daily vote hounding, because I’ve applied for a grant which has a first step of reality-show-style popularity contest to it. Arthur Guinness Projects is offering grants of up to €50K for a variety of arenas: arts, music, sport and food.

    I’ve applied for an arts grant to work on my climate change trilogy, which I’d dearly love to do. The catch in the voting process is you have to sign up for their site, which I wish wasn’t the case, but if you don’t mind doing so, you can vote for my project once a day. And it’d be really nice if you would. :)

    You can vote here. Daily!

    Behind the cut is the (extremely rough, but uncut) version of the excerpt that is also posted on the AGP website.

%d bloggers like this: