• Matthew Staggs

Lets Get Real

Let‘s get real here for a second. I mean, like, really real. No filter, no promotion speak, just me and you, writer to reader.

Writing Eradication is hard. When I first set out to write Containment, I had intended it to be a standalone book. The more I thought about it, and started looking at my goal of being a full-time writer, I knew there was more to the story, and it needed to be a series.

Now I haven‘t graduated to the 5, 7, or 15 book series that a lot of independently published authors seem to be able to crank out, but the trilogy is a time-tested method of telling a long story. And for me, I thought it was manageable.

Now, don’t panic. I’m definitely not saying I’m going to call it quits on the Gratz family. Far from it. Eradication will be the next book I publish, and I will publish it sooner than later. I am still striving to meet my targeted 5/30 release date, but I guess I just want to get it out there that it’s harder to write this one tham I thought it would be.

When I plotted out the series, I knew it would evolve and stray a bit, but I knew I could always come back to the original plan. That worked for books 1 and 2, but for 3, the plan just didn‘t work anymore.

Call it story evolution, call it realization of ridiculousness, call it crushing weight of meeting my readers’ expectations and wrapping up a couple hundres thousand words worth of work the right way, but it just isnt going great.

Maybe I just needed to get that out in the open. Everyone has been super supportive and I can’t thank you enough (except you John. You know what you did).

So I’ll leave you with a flash fiction story I submitted to an ezine a couple years ago called “Blades of Grass.” It wad written as an original concept, but I plan on letting serve as the basis of a story in my master collection of story ideas.

Enjoy, and until next time...

Malia picked at the blades of grass, rolling them between her fingers and grinding them until they disintegrated, leaving a behind a sticky, green stain on her fingertips.  She stretched out her fingers and ran them slowly through the cool grass, hand hovering just above the soil.  It felt good on her hand, like combing through coarse hair.  Rolling onto her back, Malia looked up, squinting at the bright light.  When her eyes adjusted, she could make out the four long poles that connected the artificial sun to the cylindrical walls of the forest habitat.  

From where she laid, the massive trees and wild bushes seemed to be random, organic, as though life had sprung up naturally from the curved metal wall underneath.  But when she had a clear view of the far side of the massive tube, it wasn’t hard to tell that the landscape had been carefully planned.

“We’d better head out,” said Quinton, a tall, brown-headed boy that lay on his back next to Malia, hands on his chest, eyes closed.  

She laid her left arm flat against the ground, palm facing up.  Malia felt the boy’s warmth as her arm brushed up against his, and smiled faintly as he placed his hand in hers, interlocking their fingers. “Just another minute.”

“All right.  But if those misters come on while we’re still in here, I’m running and you can get soaked on your own.”

Malia rolled to face Quinton and flopped her right leg across his.  She snaked her free hand around his arm and pulled closer.  “This is my favorite place on the whole ship.  It reminds me of Earth.”

Quinton laughed.  “You’re too young to remember what Earth was like.  I’m too young.  By at least 700 years.”

“I read stories.  I watch vids.  I think have a pretty good idea of what it was like.”

Quinton sat up, brushing off the dirt and grass, and wiped his hands together with a quiet clap.  He rested his elbows on his knees, and held his wrist in front of him, not looking back down at Malia.   “Have you decided yet?  Whether you’re gonna sleep or not?”

“Not yet.  I still have a few months to decide.”

“It would be nice…I mean, I would like it if you did.  You know, so that there would be someone around when we woke up that I actually liked.”

Malia smiled, and poked playfully at Quinton’s side.  “You mean you’d wait three centuries for me?”

“It’s not like I’d be sitting around or anything.  You know how it works; you get one of the empty pods, and they wake us up whenever we get there.”

Malia stood up, and wiped off her pants and her shirt.  She folded her arms and began walking through the trees, back toward the exit hatch.

“Malia?”  Quinton got up and hurried after her.  “What’s wrong?”

She didn’t stop or turn to look back, and talked while Quinton followed behind her.  “What if it isn’t anything like Earth?  What if it has no plants, no lakes, what if we can’t even breathe the air?”

“The scans and research looks like it can support…”

“But what if it’s not this?” she said, reaching a hand out to touch a tree as she passed. “I like this.  I love this.  I think I might actually be happier staying awake and being able to come here every day.  They still need people to run the ship.  Maybe I could get assigned to forest maintenance.”

Quinton stuffed his hands into his pockets, and stared at Malia’s bare feet as she walked ahead of him.

“So that’s it then?”

She hesitated before answering, hearing the dejection in Quinton’s voice.  “No, I haven’t decided yet, Quin.  I don’t know.  I’m just scared.”

Quinton caught up to Malia, and took her hand in his.  She rested her head on his shoulder as they continued to walk.

As they climbed down the hatch, a loud alarm began blaring in the forest, and the light from the artificial sun dimmed rhythmically, alerting anyone who was still inside that the irrigation system was about to kick on.

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Not much to report on this week. Late again as usual. A trend, I know. But I did experience a good breakthrough with Eradication, and things are starting to move along more smoothly now. Last week was