Relax with a glass of wine. A good day. Off and running on a story I began months ago, but ran aground and put it away. Wrote some 700 words, then accidentally, stupidly, deleted them before I'd saved the file. Quite upset and angry at myself for a time, but sat down and easily recreated what I'd done in no longer than the time it took to type the words... and I type 90 to 100 words a minute when I'm relaxed and in the groove. . Then wrote another 300 words on my novel... which I'm more and more inclined to call Found Things.
I'm especially pleased with the story. I know precisely where it went wrong, and this by discovering how to make it right.
I call it Freedom Arms. Everything takes place in an enormous complex of apartments and condominiums. That's the world of the story. No reference to anything outside. There are strange rumors of dissidents, tenants in revolt, of secret cafés in sub-sub level basements. Tales of violence in distant wings. People disappear without trace. I started to write this in the usual "realist" mode, world-building. Background. History. How did this state of affairs come about.
Awful. Bad on so many levels. If nothing else, I would have to anchor it in time: past, future... absolutely Wrong. I almost tore it up and threw it away.
I took it out on Saturday and began to rewrite from the beginning. It's first person. Why would the narrator have any need to "explain" the obvious? We seldom give thought to those things that make up our world. Let it all be... at best... suggested. Mostly, just left in the dark.
It made me think of how science fiction and fantasy have this in common, this world-building. Historical fiction, too. The more "historically accurate" the fiction, the more it is really in the same class as science fiction and fantasy. I don't hold this against those forms, but it is absolutely not what I want to do.
And if we don't, for the most part, see our world... but merely live within it, a clearly defined fictive world will be nothing like any world that anyone has ever lived in... other than through fiction. Propaganda. Historical narrative.
Here is the way out--or a way out--of what I've been trying to get away from in my short fiction. Here is one part of the convention I can choose to dispense with. Interesting, in dispensing with "world building, I find that I've cut myself loose from stylistic conventions used in earlier stories. Description-- takes on an entirely different function. All that stage-setting, the attention to little set pieces...the melody announced by the violins taken up by the flutes, raised to a pitch by the horns, turned elegiac by the oboes. Instead, an acapella solo, a voice singing to itself. Singing to itself to be overheard. But with a rather poor sense of pitch. Going regularly off-key.
The great advantage, the source of my excitement--is that it keeps me in the dark. I can't see more than a few words ahead of me. The pleasure of discovery.... recovered.
More than me.
... and maybe... this, of course, remains to be seen... or rather, found, found out, by others...