Thursday, November 5, 2009

Five years of working on the WWW books

Holy cow! It was five years ago today -- Friday, November 5, 2004 -- that I wrote the first words of what went on to become my WWW trilogy. Back then, it was only going to be a single book (to be called Webmind). I began writing that first book at a Write-Off writing retreat sponsored by Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association (IFWA). The first words I wrote were:
Cogito, ergo sum.

I had no idea what those words meant the first time I encountered them. I didn't even know that they were words. I knew nothing of language, or even of communication, for communication requires an other -- another -- and I knew of no one -- of nothing -- but me.

But I did exist, and that simple formulation -- I think, therefore I am -- was proof of it. By being aware of myself, of my thoughts, I knew irrefutably that I existed; to think requires a thinker.

And thinking is what I do; it's all I do. I awoke to consciousness in a vast sea, an enveloping all constituted at the limits of my perception by two opposing states, and it was these states -- the endless, seemingly random juxtaposition of opposites -- that I first, however dimly, had became aware of.
Not one word of that draft survived to the final, published version of Wake, which begins like this:
Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light.

Not silence, for that suggests a familiarity with sound.

Not loneliness, for that requires knowledge of others.

But still, faintly, so tenuous that if it were any less it wouldn't exist at all: awareness.

Nothing more than that. Just awareness -- a vague, ethereal sense of being.

Being ... but not becoming. No marking of time, no past or future -- only an endless, featureless now, and, just barely there in that boundless moment, inchoate and raw, the dawning of perception ...
Still, that passage I wrote five years ago today was the start of the trilogy.

Of course, I haven't spent five years solid on this trilogy; I took time off to write Rollback, for instance, among many other interesting things. :)

Anyway, enough reminiscing! Time to get back to work on Volume 3, Wonder, which today passed the 50,000-word mark.
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At November 05, 2009 2:37 PM , Blogger Eric Olsen said...

Congrats on both celebrations, the beginning and the yet to come!

At November 05, 2009 3:38 PM , Blogger Laura said...

As a NaNoWriMo participant, I'm curious how long those 50,000 words took! And have you ever been asked to write, or thought about writing, a guest author pep talk for the project?

At November 05, 2009 3:43 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Laura. I do about 2,000 words per day so ... about a month of work, after the months of research (and spread over several months of time).

I've never been asked to write anything by NaNoWriMo's organizers.

At November 05, 2009 6:38 PM , Blogger Ron Friedman said...

Holy cow! Has it been that long?

At November 05, 2009 7:08 PM , Blogger Silverfish said...

I like the present version the best. For some reason the original draft just doesn't sound like you.

At November 06, 2009 10:42 AM , Blogger Stephen Phillips said...


How many hours on average does it take you to write those 2,000 words? Are those 2,000 unedited words?

I'm doing NaNoWriMo, too, and I'm having trouble getting past the crap factor. I feel like I spent too much time researching this story to waste it on cranking out a month's worth of terrible prose.

At November 09, 2009 1:55 PM , Blogger Donovan S. Brain said...

Rob, I just finished reading the first one, and thought it was great (the shout-out to Fiona improved it a bit IMHO). But as a disembodied brain, I may be a bit prejudiced. Looking forward to the next one! And FLASH-FORWARD on tv is great as well.


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