Most authors experience a bit of soul searching as they are writing, but this chapter has caused a good bit of angst for me. It harkens back to my early childhood, where teachers wondered if I was retarded or something, because I had trouble writing cursive (not very readably) and had to be helped one summer to bring my reading up to standard. Then when I scored 10th grade on a 5th and 6th grade science achievement test, they wondered what kind of alien child they had been given to teach.
When I snuck under the door into a full-time gifted class in middle school, there was a different dynamic. No matter what kind of weird-ass person you are, there is a certain comradery, a certain realization that the outside world really doesn’t like us very much, and so we need to stick together for mutual protection.
And we did, with it saving my butt on more than one occasion. There was a certain amount of competition, encouraged by the teachers, so that we wouldn’t be totally lazy. But it was different than the normal world, encouraging more of a “do your best and let the cards fall where they may” rather than a sabotage of your competitor. It built a cooperative competition, which honestly, buried me in college where the name of the game was to come up with the winning trick that allowed you to dominate all others, keeping that trick secret.
The spirit of those years of my life flows through me while I write this chapter. It’s really a stereotype extraction, since all human interaction is not so altruistic. But Tova reflects some of the difficulty a gifted person has with the neurotypical part of the population. Some neurotypicals view us like a weapons system or a piece of unique industrial hardware for exploitation, while that exploitation is profitable. You can see some of that coming through in the various parties that try to dominate Tova’s life and exploit her, not necessarily for her benefit.
As far as this chapter goes, it’s already 22,000 words and I’m not done. The chapter itself is almost a novella, yet it can’t stand alone out of the context of the novel. I’ve written some other similar chapters, and they have really turbocharged the main novel because when you are done reading the chapter, you really feel, really care about the character, and the events in the main novel are no longer, “oh well.”
In terms of design of the book itself, having a book this long, with numerous illustrations, is going to force some changes to the design. As it exists now, the novel cannot be bound. It is just too thick. Reducing the font size will not be enough. I will likely have to change this to a real, coffee-table book format, which makes sense when you consider a lot of photography books are done in that format. It will be a full experience book. Perhaps something like 10” x 13” with a discovered ancient book feel to it.
I’ve included an excerpt below which gives quite a different feeling from some of my previous writing. This is an early snapshot, so it doesn’t have all the embellishments that truly make it Literary Fiction style. In the excerpt, Tyr is Tova’s father, Tova starts out eight years old and then the timeline jumps to when she is ten years old, Jacob Connelly was a military advisor that became her teacher, and Phil, who was with Tova when she was born then pressganged into being a doctor in the Air Force. The general is the head of the Air Force Office of Space and Extraterrestrial Research. Tova went to Africa to watch a cure for a genetic disease be administered to a tribe, a cure that she and her mom had invented, but she was confronted with a hostile militia. The excerpt starts with Tyr viewing a top-secret video of the confrontation as he was not there. When Tova refers to “she”, Tova is referring to something akin to a second personality, the resurrected spirit of the Sun God, Lifegiver, though others simply think Tova has a split personality. They believe Tova is so smart that her intelligence cannot reconcile with the empathetic ten-year-old girl that she is. There is a cold-blooded aspect to this “alternative personality.”