27 December 2015 - 1:10 pm

The future of Starwalker

After the struggle and ultimate disappointment of writing Starwalker for this year’s NaNoWriMo project, I’ve been giving some serious thought to how I get back on the web serial  horse.

I don’t give up on things easily. I have stories left to tell in Starwalker: there is one, probably two books in her yet. I miss the weekly posting and checking up for comments to see what people think and how they’re reacting. I’m frustrated that I’m not making the progress that I should be on a project – any project, but particularly my central one – right now.

So I’ve been giving some serious thought to why it’s proving so difficult this time around. If I’m going to fix it, I need to understand it.

Part of it is that I’m struggling to do anything terribly creative right now. I’m not only having trouble getting down to write Starwalker; I’m having trouble focussing my attention on any project at the moment, certainly for long enough to make real inroads into it.

The creative drain is something I put largely down to the mental and emotional exhaustion that I’m suffering lately. It has been a stressful year and that has impact my chronic fatigue in ways that I’m still coming to understand. It’s more than physical. I’ve got ideas and still love my stories, but just don’t have the creative energy to sit down and turn them into words. Not with any longevity, anyway.

Starwalker, in particular, seems difficult to get back to. In comparison, I wrote sections of newer projects much more easily (beginnings of things have always come pretty easily to me). I’ve been mulling over why this is, and it has taken a while for me to admit to myself that I’m finding Starwalker a bit boring.

I still love the story. I still adore the characters and their voices. I am still keen to see what happens with Starry and her crew, and the challenges they have ahead of them.

But after four books, it is all a bit rote now. When we return to the story, the ship is travelling (limping a bit) on its way to somewhere else. Because of the damage, this takes a while, which is usually an opportunity for some musing on the parts of the characters to soak up the downtime.

It’s not really anything new, though the characters are in slightly different places now. And if I’m feeling a bit bored with the routine of it all, surely my readers are feeling it, too? Or are they looking forward to more of the same? (I haven’t asked, or maybe this is me asking: is the pattern of Starwalker getting stale?)

I think what I want to do is shake things up. Shift focus, try a new approach. I’ve been pondering different points of view, different ways of telling the story, though I’m reluctant to diverge from the ‘ship’s log’ approach. That, in particular, is part of what makes Starwalker stand out from the crowd, and I don’t want to break the format. Shake it up, yes, but not shatter it entirely.

What does that mean? I’m not sure yet. I’m pondering options and different ways to tell the story, including more points of view, skipping the long, dull tracts of space travel, and maybe including some log entries from outside of the ship and her crew. I’m trying to think of other new things I can try out, just to see what happens.

It all requires more thought and planning, which will take a bit of time. I don’t want Book 5 to be simply ‘more of the same’, for my own sake as a writer as well as for my audience, I want the start of this next phase in Starry’s journey to be fresh and different to what has come before. I want to break free of the bogged-down feeling that the end of Book 4 had (for me, anyway) and start something both familiar and new. I want to get truly excited about this story again, so it can be the fun, dangerous ride that the first books were.

I’m back at the drawing board for Starwalker. It’s going to take a little time to get it straight and good to go. I beg for patience and perseverance, I’m determined to do this right, and I’m hoping to get myself in a better emotional and energetic state so that Book 5 sings along merrily.

In the meantime, I’ll be shifting the Starwalker site to a new host to cut down on my costs. Wish me luck! More coming on this soon.

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  1. Francisco says:

    We all have times like that. Maybe, instead of Starwalker, you could start something for one of your newer projects and come back to Starwalker when you’re more confident about it?

    December 31st, 2015 at 5:07 am

  2. Francisco says:

    By “start something” i mean share it with us.

    December 31st, 2015 at 5:08 am

  3. Syndic says:

    Take the time you need, we’ll be here waiting for starry to return when you’re ready 🙂

    December 31st, 2015 at 9:23 pm

  4. Alexander Leaking Pen Hollins says:

    personally, i like the action, healing from action and socially interacting, more action pattern.

    chunk of rando ideas.

    Retell the first four books from the perspective of the logs of a similar AI that actually runs one of the companies secretly, and has been tracking the starwalker project. That way there is missing pockets in the story, that the ai knows are missing, but you can also fill in things that the crew didn’t know. We can then get some cat and mouse as you go back and forth from the two log perspectives as the company tries to get control of starry and crew.

    Alien invasion. Using a more sophisticate version of the starwalk that doesn’t leave holes.

    the truth gets out about starry, and different corps fight to control her and get the tech.

    January 2nd, 2016 at 12:52 am

  5. Mel says:

    Thanks so much, everyone. 🙂

    Francisco – very tempting. I’ll have to keep to shorter projects, or risk being distracted. I don’t want to leave Starwalker for too long. That said, maybe working through some shorter projects would be good for me right now.

    Syndic – thank you! I really appreciate your patience and understanding. I’m really determined to write her again!

    Alexander – thanks, that’s really good to know. I think it’s important to keep varying the intensity and pace, to avoid getting stuck in any particular gear (whether it’s high-speed or low-key). And I don’t want to lose what people like about Starry’s story.

    Love the ideas. (Tackled in reverse order because that’s the way my brain is working today. Don’t ask.) The last one is a possibility (always going to be hanging over them). They’ve been careful to hide what Starry is, and there are different parties who would be interested in Starry herself (for the human/AI merge), compared to who would be after the tech she was built to test. Lots and lots of cross-purposes there to play with.

    The alien invasion is the reverse of what the ship has agreed to do for Cerces, so we’ll see. I guess it might start with a human invasion? Unless they beat Starry to initiating first contact.

    The first suggestion is interesting. I could put in some logs recovered from the Celestial Strider, telling some of her story (and her now-captured crew’s). It would show a more ‘normal’ AI log, and it’ll give a different view on Book 3 and 4, potentially.

    Lots to mull over. Thanks for the input, everyone. 😀

    January 4th, 2016 at 2:16 pm

  6. 2015 in retrospect : : Adventures in Text says:

    […] talked at length on this blog about my struggles and ponderings around Starwalker, so I won’t go over it again. Let’s just say that the hiatus lasted longer than […]

    January 9th, 2016 at 3:22 pm

  7. Kunama says:

    Yo, just saw this. It being a serial, it’s going to take a while for me to realise you’re bored; I only see it whenever you post, and otherwise I’m not really perceptive enough to know how you’re feeling unless you tell me. (Or you’re good at hiding things, which is great until you realise you’re hiding stuff from yourself too.) Going to agree – it’s getting a bit same-y, one crisis after another – but they have been crises of different flavours, so that’s kept it interesting. I wouldn’t mind some insights from/into the minds of other crew members.
    … and now I’m just blathering, so I’ll stop and quietly look forward to where you go from here.

    January 11th, 2016 at 2:28 am

  8. Mel says:

    Thanks, Kunama. 🙂

    I generally try not to let my personal stuff get in the way of telling the story that I want to tell. Sometimes that’s not possible, which is a shame. Mostly, I want Starwalker to be the best story it can be.

    Good to know that I’m not the only one feeling that it needs a bit of spicing up. All good stuff. I’m getting some ideas. 🙂

    January 12th, 2016 at 8:33 am