My current project has a lot 1990s backstory. I went to college and started my career in the nineties, so I know a thing or two about it, but it’s not really about the nineties. It’s about the relationship between the protagonist and the woman who would become his wife and ultimately the reason he has left Oklahoma in the 2007 timeline.
Getting back into the 90s frame of mind is not exactly easy for me. My world was very specific. I spent half the nineties in the School of Music at the University of Oklahoma studying how to be a singer, how to direct a choir, and how to teach people how to sing. I was not immersed in the times. I was immersed in a centuries-old art form, studying Western music from the middle ages on. I knew little of Notorious B.I.G. or fashion. But I’m piecing it together. I wasn’t entirely blind. It was all happening around me.
My protagonist is a computer science major, but he joins the choir and his girlfriend is a voice student. This allows me to write something a little closer to home even if it’s from an outsider perspective. I’m a computer programmer myself even though I didn’t study it in college, but much of his college chapters centers around the music school and music majors.
I’m having to deal with language and culture and issues like sexuality in pre-millenial ways. It’s hard to peal back 20 years of remarkable change in the world. No cell phones. The internet barely in place. The 90s perspective on being gay, especially in regard to being black and gay…which one of my characters is.
I’m writing very steadily right now. I’m getting in 2-3k a day mostly on breaks at my day job plus a few hours on the weekends. I have topped 40k words today. I’m drafting at the moment. When I draft, I like to think of it like a graphic artist does a comic book. He/she sketches out the frames. No color or shading, less detail. Rough. There is very little color or style in the book so far. I just want to tell the story and nail down as much as the dialogue and action as possible. I’ll color it all in later. I want a really tight, compelling story. I can give it beauty and atmosphere and pathos on a second write. I look very much forward to doing that once I have bones.
Not being a pro, there’s not really any kind of pressure to produce this. I don’t even know if and when I will publish it. I have two or three other projects lined up after this, and I might write or draft them before publishing anything. At least, that’s one self-publishing strategy….to have something ready to go soon after the launch of a book to get readers hooked into my writing.
My readership is tiny right now. I’ve been honing my craft over the last 15 years or so, waiting for the right time to produce a full-blown novel, and I’ve decided this is the time. My kids are grown. My career is settled. I have more free time. I have a better idea of how to write something potent and compelling. I’ve got no place to go but up!