If you have not yet read Caeli in its entirety, I recommend that you do this now before going any further. The following contains spoilers. You have been warned.
The creation of the story of Caeli began like any other: During my daydreams when I was supposed to be doing other things. Like work or, you know, paying attention to what someone was saying.
All of my ideas start simply…just a single character or idea, merely a glimmer of the work as a whole. In terms of the conceptualization of this particular story, the conversation with myself went something like this:
“Ok, so we know that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, right?”
“And we can reasonably say that our minds…our thoughts and feelings and perceptions…our soul, really, is made up of energy.”
“Well, yes, I guess that makes sense, when you consider the firing of the neurons and such. Yeah, it sounds reasonable.”
“So, then, what happens to that energy when we die? It has to go somewhere, right?”
Voila. Here you now have a speculative-fictional take on reincarnation and the afterlife. Sprinkle in some otherworldly imagery, a couple of epic battles, and an overarching conflict into the plot thread and you have the type of fiction my imagination thrives upon.
In terms of coming up with story ideas, my mind tends to work in terms of event and then motivation. I know that I want to have certain things happen, so I insert characters that need to be there for such things to take place, then I figure out what motivations these people need to have that would enable the sequence of events, and finally, working backwards, I come up with the their individual histories which would cause them to possess such motivations. I then layer on the details in an outward spiral of non-linearity, as if I were building a gourmet cake with no initial plan. Somehow, in the end, it all comes together and I end up with a literary smorgasbord of tastes and textures.
Can you tell I like metaphors?
Anyway, I started putting down some random sentences and names, and then filed the idea away for future consideration. This is common for me. I often need to let my stories gestate for a while before I’m ready to start building them in earnest. When the initial concepts for Caeli came to mind, I knew at some deep level that it wasn’t ready, not yet. Or maybe it was me that wasn’t ready. At times in the past I’ve certainly subscribed to the idea that as writers we never truly create the things we write, but rather just transcribe the strange transmissions that get broadcast to us from some other place. It’s never easy to tell with these things.
Time passed, and then one day in late summer of 2011 I learned of the Writers of the Future contest sponsored by the L. Ron Hubbard foundation. Wanting to enter, I looked through my current body of work but didn’t find anything that I felt was worthy of the competition. I then came across my notes for the as-yet-unnamed tale of a man who dies, learns about the war of which we are all a part, and discovers what our energy can do when taken beyond the realm of Earth. I knew instantly that this was the one, and it was time to give this work the life it deserved.
As you may have seen me mention in the About page of this site, I work in the IT industry in downtown Denver, and I hold a second job in retail. My wife and I have two young children as well as a house that, due to said children, won’t stay clean for more than a day. Add in school work, pets, bills, and a plethora of other things for which there never seems to be enough time in the day, and you have an idea of my day-to-day life. Pretty much the only chances I have to write are the 20 minute stints during my commute to and from work, which I do via public transportation. Caeli was written during these periods, just a little bit at a time.
The Writers of the Future contest has a limit of 17,000 words for each submission. This, combined with my self-imposed deadline of two months to complete the project, got me started in earnest and with some very clear goals on how the story was going to turn out. Now, keep in mind that you’re talking about a guy who began life as a writer blindly, relying on nothing more than my own imagination, the study of writers I admired, and a little sprinkling of what I could remember from high school English class. My first piece of work came about in fits and starts, developing as I learned the craft and requiring multiple rewrites as my skills improved. By comparison, the experience of writing Caeli was extremely clean and smooth. The work came out close to ninety percent complete, and only needed a single editorial pass before it was ready for the contest. I loved it from start to finish.
Needless to say I didn’t win the contest, but it worked out to my advantage, for when it came time to decide what I would use as my debut story to the world at large, Caeli once again came up as the logical choice. I put together the cover art, formatted the manuscript to make it salable, and lo and behold, now you are able to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
There you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief insight into the part of my mind that will never grow out of its childlike phase. Feel free to leave comments below, and stay tuned for more info to come.