Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Yesterday I finished the first draft of the 2nd Science Fiction novel involving Time Travel between the 21st and 27th Centuries with a similar cast of characters to my first Sci-Fi story, Amanda7. I do not have a title for this second one yet. I have been calling it the Agent Amanda Story as one of the seven Amanda’s from the first story became an Agent of the supervisory body of time travel in the 27th and subsequent Centuries-The Agency for Timeline Integrity.
I have been writing segments of these stories every day since December 1st– 140 days with very few days not adding more words to the two stories. In that time, I have written close to 140,000 words in the stories (a few more in the first than the second). Most days, I waited until after lunch to write fiction (is fiction written better on a full stomach?). In a sense, there was time pressure as I felt I had to have the next installment out the next day. In that regards, I was lucky. I was lucky as I had three readers who commented every day I published. Most writers write in solitude. When they are finished they then ship their manuscript out for someone to read. I can tell you that beetleypete, Eddy Winko and fragglerocking (these are their blog post names) made my finishing a lot easier than had I been writing in the traditional way—locked in the basement until finished. Thank you, guys.
It was difficult not responding more fully to the comments of my three readers. Two things constrained me. First the next section was almost never written when I responded to the comments for the last section so I didn’t really know and couldn’t give anything way—no plot spoilers, so to speak. Then too as fragglerocking pointed out from time to time the characters in the story tell their own story. I would sit down to write an episode and have only the faintest idea of where that episode was going. Or I would sit down and know where it has to go and the characters took it in another direction. What I did learn was that I only had to sit down and start to write. I would start with the number and title of the episode. Often the title changed, at least a little bit. As the characters spoke and acted, they created situations I had to explain or account for in future episodes. In a sense, those character creations set up the titles and the episodes then flowed.
Ted, you may remember Ron Primeau and his sidekick in those teaching writing seminars extolling us to remind our students that you have to write to an audience and keep that audience in mind as you write and revise. My three readers kept my notion of the audience very personal. I think my three readers were not hardcore science fiction readers. But then I was not writing hardcore science fiction, only using the fantasy of time travel as a vehicle to tell stories. None-the-less they were my audience. It was fascinating to read their comments about different characters, or difficulties they were having with the way time travel developed in the story. Indeed, I developed favorite characters. One was Andy Kellog, a scatterbrained nice taxi driver. As a consequence, I put him in more episode’s and I liked writing about him. Along with their difficulties with the paradox of time travel, I had to work the kinks out in my head. I now have a greater appreciation for how difficult the whole concept of “do-overs” is. Yet there are possibilities. Regardless, fantasy is just that fantasy. It exists for enjoyment and in some cases fear.
Writers are told to write what you know. I wrote about time travel. Interesting there is nothing known about time travel except that it is impossible and that it only exists in fiction. So, what does that say about what I know? When I started both of my two novellas’ I had an idea of where they would go—what crime or problem existed to solve in a sense. I do not have an idea of anything I know for the next one. In a recent episode, I raised the possibility of a psychiatrist or psychologist getting an implant and using the implant to see how his or her treatment was doing and thus able to go back and fine tune it. I asked a psychologist what she thought of the idea. She replied, “It sounds like a lot of work for the psychologist.” Thinking about writing such a story sounds like a lot of work learning about what those folks fix, the symptoms and treatments and this is more than I know—however, can one make up mental illnesses? . . . Then two there is still the unexplored parallel universe that spit out the seven Amandas on that swing set every twenty years on a Christmas Eve in a small park in the 1200 block of Mission Boulevard in an unnamed city. As you can see, I haven’t a clue where to base the next story or what it will be about. However, as I write this there are still a few hours before I have to start writing to get an episode ready for tomorrow.
Over the past 140 days, on more than a few, I dreaded sitting down to write. But, once at the keyboard, the story captured me and I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute and every keystroke (except when I hit the wrong key and it slowed the flow of the story).
WordPress tells me I have 70 followers of my blog. I don’t know if you follow the fiction, my tirades against the pestilence, comments about things, the nonsense letters or the photos I often post. If you are following the fiction let me know what you think about my jumping into another story tomorrow. I am also open to suggestions for a title for the story I concluded today.
I do hope this finds you well, happy and in the mood for another long and drawn-out story about something assuming I can come up with something by tomorrow.
Warmest regards, Ed
067 ATI Council Hearing – Conclusion
Fiction in 1048 words by T. Edward Westen
Director Meacham banged the gavel and declared “We are back in session.” Turning to the second Alice’s counsel he said, “Mr. Davidson, I have one or two more questions of Ms. Hickson before the council is ready to address any motions from you.” The members of the council all nodded in agreement. Then turning to Melissa Hickson he asked, “Why did you publish children’s stories in the 21st Century you got from this time period?”
Melissa Hickson shook her head. “I didn’t know it would be so difficult to get the money to live in the 21st Century. When I saw Alice Beaverton loading up on children’s books for her Jessica Ann, I thought, that is what I will do to get the money to live in earlier times. It was so long ago that I thought no one would notice?”
Director Meacham, handed Special Agent Fleishman a few pages of paper and asked, “Would you give these to Ms. Hickson, please?”
Special Agent Fleishman handed the papers to Melissa. Melissa looked at them and said, “These are the children’s books I published under my name.”
“You published all of them?” asked Director Meacham.
Melissa ran her finger down the list, and turned the pages and continued. Finishing her scan of the list she looked up, and said, “I think you only missed the one about The Hills Have Eyes, Sir.”
“You remember each and every one of them?” asked an incredulous Director Meacham.
“Yes, Sir. I remember reading each one to my Baby Jessica Ann,” replied Melissa Hickson. “I remember her eyes lighting up as I changed my voice for different parts and every time the books asked her to respond. Yes, they are some of my fondest memories and I hope hers.” Melissa smiled and folded her hands and appeared to be lost in memories.
“Have you ever heard of The Accumulated Writings Data Base?” Director Meacham asked.
Melissa was still lost in her memories.
Director Meacham tried again, “Ms. Hickson, Ms. Hickson. AHHHM”
Finally, Melissa looked up, “Yes?”
The Director asked again, “Have you ever heard of The Accumulated Writings Data Base?”
“No, what is that?” Melissa asked.
“Around the dawn of the computer age, in the late 20th Century, a small group of writers and publishers began to assemble a database of all written work, copyrighted and not copyrighted to fight plagiarism. Almost everything that has ever been written and published is now in that database. Authors, run their manuscripts through the database to get proof that their work is original. By publishing those children’s books under your name in the 21st Century you deprived authors today of royalties for their original work you copied.”
Melissa Hickson’s face contorted in horror. Tears rolled from her eyes and she gasped for breath, “I am so sorry, I didn’t know.”
Other than the sound of Melissa sobbing, the council chambers were silent for a few moments. Then Director Meacham turned and asked the Council Members on his left, “Are we all still agreed?” They all nodded. He turned to the right, and without asking they all nodded. Turning to the second Alice’s counsel he said, “We have heard that your client is neither complicit nor guilty in plagiarism or lapping. She did, however, have her term at Mission Creek terminated extralegally. Therefore, we will return her to that facility at the exact time of her extra-legal exit to serve the remainder of her term as if none of this happened.”
“But you Honor, what about everyone deserves a future?” asked Mr. Davidson.
“I’ll ignore the appellation, Mr. Davidson. She will have a future. This time a potentially positive one.” Turning to Special Agent Fleishman, “Will you please arrange this. We recommend you intercede with Melissa Hickson just before she pivoted into the Mission Creek Corrections Facility. Then drop off Ms. Hickson with Ms. Gunderson as per terms of the plea agreement.”
Mr. Davidson had risen to his feet to object as Special Agent Fleishman, Melissa Hickson and the 2nd Alice vanished. “I, er, what happened.”
Director Meacham laughed out loud. “You really don’t understand time travel do you, Mr. Davidson. The short answer is nothing happened except for, shall we say, the original Alice Beaverton.” He pointed to the Alice Beaverton and the young man seated beside her, “and her less excitable representative.”
Anthony Jenkins, Attorney at Law, stood for the first time since the hearing had begun. “I may be less excitable, Mr. Director, however, I am no less interested in advocating for my client. At this point what charges, or in the case of this body, issues, are extant?” He started to sit, then thought better of it and added, “I only ask so I have some idea of what defense to present.” Then he sat.
“Well, Mr. Jenkins, we find ourselves in something of an embarrassing position with respect to your client,” replied Director Meacham. “What your client did is to expose a series of security issues for the Agency for Temporal Integrity. And, I will be the first to admit that they occur because of our arrogance and lack of attention to, well, housekeeping and accounting details. However, rather than expressing this in terms of blame let me say because of your client’s escapades we have begun to rethink how we store and retrieve time implant materials. We have begun to restructure our bookkeeping. We are examining a screening process for accepting and rejecting applicants for implants. In addition, the state is examining its statutes on counterfeiting antiquities and transporting them in time. The state is also reexamining the limits or lack thereof of temporary identity tabs for people on parole. You see, Sir, your client did not break any laws. No, she is, shall we say, the catalyst for why some need to be made.”
Mr. Jenkins rose and started to say “Then, I think . . .”
Director Meacham held up his hand to interrupt the attorney. “No need, Mr. Jenkins. Other than offering your client a position with ATI to help us identify and put into place security measures, we have no other issues with your client. She is free to go and we thank you for your forbearance.” Director Meacham banged his gavel. “This proceeding is concluded.”
Fiction in 113 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
27th Century Childhood Publications
September 24, 2665
The Whispering Pillars of Alexander is clearly one of your best works to date, and we are pleased to offer you the enclosed contract for publishing it along with your next ten manuscripts. We firmly believe your addition of interactions by the readers is the wave of the future in children’s literature and we have asked our technical division to incorporate that feature into the production of this and all future books we publish.
We at 27th Century Childhood Publicans look forward to publishing more of your excellent additions to the children’s literature genre.
Dawne Needleman, Acquisitions Editor