Well, okay, I'm doing a lot of things. I'm a Mris; even when one of the obligatory things is resting (and oh, is it ever), I'm still doing a lot of things.
But there's this thing coming on the horizon. I feel it like a storm, and now papersky knows how you can feel a storm coming days and days away across a prairie. This thing is large, and it's science fictional, and it's mine, my precioussss.
But this thing is not close enough that I can see the sheets of rain and the individual bursts of lightning and the bits where the sun peeks through. No. (I like storms. This is a positive metaphor.) This is far enough away that I'm only starting to get the shape of it.
So I'm working on other things, and those are going well, and for this thing, I call what I'm doing cantilevering. It's how I write SF at the small scale; for something this big it's...daunting and exhilarating and lots of fun.
So when you have a cantilever, you go leaping on out into space anchored at one end, right? We do that! That's what we do! But you have to have a darn good anchor at the end. You have to know where you've been to know where you're going. You'd think this was called doing research, but doing research is when you say to yourself, "My book is going to have all kinds of geology in it! I will read up on geology!" Or else, "My book is going to be set in Ukraine! I will read up on Ukrainian history and culture!" When I am cantilevering I am trying to figure out what the heck. And so I am just taking in data and taking in data so that I have the best deep-sunk foundation I can get. I just start grabbing nonfiction and kind of humming to myself and turning it over and seeing where it fits and whether it fits.
Eventually some of it starts to look like it's more important than others of it. Here is what I know I need more of so far: 1930s, worldwide; science of sense of smell and perfume chemistry; neurology; cultures on very large rivers. Here is what I do not need a lot of: major central large war-type military history. The entire rest of, um, whatever I might get my hands on? I do not know. We'll see what proves useful. I will keep just getting things from the library and seeing what they tell me. And some of the things they tell me will be very interesting things that go into other stories or just go into my brain for later. And some things will not show up on the surface in any way that anybody else can identify for this book, because it's not like I'm writing historical stuff here, where the 1930s are going to be useful that way. It's...patterning. It's having good footing for taking a leap.
Or possibly it's just very comforting to the parts of my brain that go whirrr while they're trying to figure out the bits of a very large project. Either way. Whirrrr. Hee. Whirrrr.