Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Rough Draft

"Rough Draft" by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Jan/Feb, 2005

This story is a must-read for writers in spite this sentence: "Whirling flakes of confusion compacted into a hard snowball in the pit of his stomach."

It follows a man who, ten years previously, had published his first novel, which then won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards. He goes from a nobody to the pinnacle of his field with one book. This man, Mitchell Coren, never published another word. He traded the uncertainty of fame and fortune for the security and stability of a technical writer's job. He became a happy drone. He thought. Then somebody threw a monkey wrench into the works.

That man was an employee of a firm that explores "alternate universes for breakthroughs or useful discrepancies that Alternitech can profitably exploit." He comes back from one of his trips with a copy of the sequel to the award-winning book written by Coren's alternate universe doppleganger and wants to publish it.

What would you do if someone presented you with a book "you" had written that you had never seen before? That's Mitchell Coren's dilemma. Anderson and Moesta use Coren to explore doubt and fear as well as the risks, rewards and responsibilities of being a writer.

Go out and buy the magazine even if you don't read any other story in it. Then carefully cut the story out of the magazine and pin the pages to the wall above your monitor for easy reference during those dark hours we all experience.