In March of 2009, I picked up a brainstorm that I had written down years before about a man stowed away on a spaceship. It was meant to be claustrophobic and not to be anything but a short story. It came about after reflecting on a few past relationships where I began to explore the idea that relationships could be based on love. The overriding claustrophobia was meant to represent that I was being pigeonholed into being something other than my true self. I had just gotten out of a very difficult breakup with a man who became a drug addict. I had, in fact, felt very claustrophobic in my own house.
The story is about a man stowing away and how uncomfortable he was. I felt that it asked the question, “How much would someone do for the person they loved?” As an aside, it contained a rather abrupt flashback. It was later turned into a separate chapter of its own, once I decided to pursue writing the book six years later.
Here are two excerpts from the short story and my actual novel. I can’t believe the difference! I’ve really grown as a writer and discovered how useful an Editor is!
The first is part of the short story:
“The vibrating took a new whine, indicating a service stop ahead at the next hyper station, when the ship would jump out of subspace and jump back into real space, next to a hyper station for recalibration, and computer link up to confirm proper passage and proper calculations to continue the jump through the hyperspace to the next hyper station.
The ship shuddered and the vibration increased to a low whine that gently grate on Steven’s nerves as his whole body vibrated in tandem with the ship coming out of hyperspace and into reality. Reality was hard. He would always feel reality hit when the ship came through the last throes of hyperspace.
As the ship did right now – sliding into real space. Reality hit him hard and he cried a muffled cry of pain and anguish. How would he get through this? How could a farmer from Nigel hopefully succeed in rescuing his male love from the prisons of Antares 4? The place was where all degenerates were sent when they were caught. I’ll be caught too! I could die there as well as Tony. Better dying by his side, than alone at home, wondering if he could do anything at all. You’re just a farmer, Steven. Not a hero. You must not forget though what the siren mother at the church said about the Loveline that connects you to Anthony. He is my soul mate. My life is forfeit if he dies, so go I must to save him or die trying.”
This is from my novel:
“The vibrating ship had taken on a new whine. The ship was dropping out of curved space and slowing down to a stop at the latest curved space pylon. This would be one of nine times that he would have to experience the madness. Corustloth had a very long, elliptical orbit in relation to the other planets in the system, hence the need to have nine pitstops on the way to the prison world. Curved space made the voyage easier than regular space, but it was maddening to experience each time the ship dropped out of it. Too bad it couldn’t be done in one quick jump...
The ship shuddered and Tam’s whole body vibrated in tandem, shaking pleasant memories of Brogan out of his head, insisting he wake up. Again, he had to experience this awful feeling like a slap across the face. It must have been something to do with the ship’s mechanics, the reason he almost went insane each time they dropped into normal space. One of the negative aspects of being a Life-Liner.
He swallowed and fought the urge to be sick. Dreams forgotten, his dubious plan was at the forefront of his mind. How could he somehow succeed in rescuing Brogan from the prison on Corustloth? He quickly turned on his side, bringing his knees closer to his chest so that if he were to be sick, he would have enough time to pull an emergency bag from his satchel.”
The original characters were named Steven and Anthony and they lived on Nigel instead of Alorion. As I began to think about making it into a novel, I realized that I had to plan out a whole set of worlds in the Messier 100 Galaxy, instead of in the Milky Way. Planet names were researched and I came up with Tam and Brogan for the main characters and the worlds Alorion and Corustloth. There was no indication of skin colour in the short story. When I started the novel, Tam automatically became a person of colour as it seemed right.
Other differences were that a Life-Line was a Loveline and the Senate replaced the Empire, which was too much like Star Wars. I also ditched hyperspace and subspace because of television references. A friend gave me the idea of using curved space as an alternate name for being able to travel faster than normal space. Curved space was meant to show an acceleration but below light speed.
There was no mention of mental abilities in the short story. Their souls were joined but that was never developed. One day, I began to think about mental abilities as a friend and I were talking about “Gaydar.” For those not in the know, Gaydar was that feeling you got when you saw another gay man - you seemed to sense him. I recall that this was the way to find another gay man in a more unfriendly world.
One thing writing the novel allowed me to see is that drafts are just that. Stories need to be rewritten, retooled, and changed. My editor at FriesenPress was invaluable. They really taught me a lot about my writing. I also realized that I have been saying the same things to my elementary school students about their writing: run-on sentences, dangling participles and prepositions at the end of a sentence, etc. What a learning experience for me!
Doing my first novel was a gateway to learning how to write better and has made me much more comfortable as I complete the second novel in the series potentially entitled, Life-Line: Diversions.