Monday, January 07, 2013

How Fact Becomes Fiction

     This is a little self-indulgently meta; oh, well.  The most recent I Work On A Starship bit is a pretty good example of my writing process when it works:

     1. Premise: rewiring to to replace a bad UPS with added load on a good one: true enough; the bad UPS had dumped on us a couple of months earlier, resulting in a weird, "spotty" outage, as a handful of racks were powered from it only and three others had a mixture (!), in one case involving an unmarked (!) power strip.  But the other two UPSes, I just made up; we work without a net except for a handful of small "stand-alone" UPSes that carry a few individual racks or devices therein through generator start/transfer.

     2. Cast: actually not too far from reality, though persons/personalities are different.

     3. The various problems:
        A. "BLOOOooooop."  Really happened. I wish it hadn't.
        B. Distressing loss of data comms: also really happened.  The backup I tried didn't work and I was deep into the book before I called the supplier of the device (and maker of the thing it talks to) for help.  They had very little help to offer but the on-call support guy, about fifteen minutes into the call, admitted "...all I know for sure about that thing is 'disconnect the serial data when rebooting.'"  Oh.   See, that's not in the book and the little gadget puts up a detailed web-based UI; who knew it wasn't clever enough to reboot hot?  Not me.  But you'd better believe a note to that effect is in the book now -- and it'll get a label bearing the same warning, too.  Support tech was befuddled to learn that was The Fix, perhaps he didn't think any customer could be so ignorant?  The ill effect of the malf was nowhere near as dramatic; we'd've just been yelled at over it and possibly sued.  Which would have been Bad, but it's not quite the same as the engines having to deal with the full realspace mass of a huge starship!

     4. Breakfast: I cooked that myself, between the initial "I'm Just In" post and starting to write "The Overnight Report."  Ate it during and it was darned good.

     5. Driving home in the dark, on ice, exhausted: Just Say No!  But I couldn't.  Left that right out.

4 comments:

Joanna said...

Hey, it's better than my process:

1) Get a story idea.
2) Start writing.
3) Realize I'm working through suppressed emotional trauma disguised by an over-the-top premise.
4) Cry a lot.
5) Finish the story.

I'm a basket case. So far I'm making it work for me.

Roberta X said...

I do that sometimes, too.

The typical IWOAS yard as only a grain of truth, or several grains, strung together in ways that didn't happen in RL.

John A said...

"See, that's not in the book"

Indeed. The first time I saw this was way back. An AT&T guy was hooking up our company's first modem (2400Baud!) and had a wire "left over" with a choice of several empty terminals. He called in, and the in-house guy tried to tell him there was no such wire...

GreyLocke said...

Still good readin....