by Dennis M. Myers, 07/6/2019
The first few books I read were all Robert Heinlein
stories. The Star Beast
, Red Planet
, and The Rolling Stones
were all given to my by my Mother and Grandmother. After that, the fire had been ignited, and I when I started 7th grade I ran to the Buffalo Junior High School library and went straight to the H section. I can't tell you in what order I read the books, but I can tell you that in The Rolling Stones
, Hazel Stone
, the wiley old grandmother, was my favorite character. As I neared the end of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
, a side character, a young woman named Hazel Meade
married the Stone
brothers, and I suddenly realized that she was now Hazel Stone
, and this story, this book I was holding was a part of a larger, connected universe.
I know, I know. We're all used to that now. But I was just a kid, and this was a wake-up call for me. Over the years that followed Heinlein connected most of his stories together, as did Azimov, another of my childhood favorites. By the time I sat down in 11th grade to start writing my own stories, I began by thinking in terms of a trilogy. I worked out a story for each of three separate generations in this multi-generation journey. So I can honestly say I have always had big stories in my head.
Over the years since, I started a half dozen different stories, and wrote notes for dozens more. Then, in 2017 my cousin, Tom
, challenged me to put all my stories into a single timeline. A single universe. While there are a couple ideas that don't fit, most of that work did, actually, fit into one timeline. I had thousands of years of snippets, showing different eras of my own human history. I spent quite a bit of time looking at places where the story ideas overlapped.
Then in September of 2017 the management position I had was "eliminated". You know how that feels, I'm sure. It hurt. Right up until they handed me the severance check. When I realized that I didn't actually have to find a job for several months before touching my savings, I decided to take a leap.
Now, being a software developer, I decided to use a software approach. I made a database table and put in all of my options for what I could do. They included finding a job right away and using the money to pay off debt, but also included the ideas for several stories that I could commit to sitting down and writing. Then I put a "weight" on each one of 1 to 10. I wrote a random selection that took those weights into account, and delivered me a result. The story idea that came up was the one on Luna which is now called Final Assembly
. I find it fascinating that this is the story it chose, because according to my timeline, it's right near the start of what I called the Automated Empire
. Tying the story together gave it a rich history, and a forward momentum that I enjoy. That's how the Rise of the Automated Empire
I spent the next three months writing, on average, 2,000 words a day of story. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, here. But I am proud of that accomplishment, and by tracking my numbers, I proved to myself that I could do it. I also found so much deep satisfaction in the process of creating a story that I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
As I write this, I am well over a quarter of a million words into creating stories in this massive universe. I am just getting started.
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