Work on my ongoing semi-realistic space opera has slowed almost to a halt and I'm sorry about that. Some of it is distraction and lack of time. Some of it is the real world overwhelming the fictional one.
The idea for the series came from trying to describe recent projects at work to my family one holiday season. No matter how much I simplified, for most of them, it was too foreign to their experiences. My family runs to teachers, nurses and the occasional preacher. They are generally not people who change their own oil or put new ends on extension cords. Eyes would glaze over before the first sentence had ended and I realized that as far as they were concerned, I might as well work on a starship.*
The characters, however, are drawn from real life, usually composites of two or more people, with their tics and traits hugely magnified. Since I started writing, three have died unexpectedly, one has departed under a cloud and another had a stroke and retired. Several were in my department or well up the chain; this includes the General Manager who lent Captain Telemachus James his name (greatly modified), height, build and general demeanor (elements of his personality were also cribbed from the son of Odysseus and the Christian saint, both named Telemachus) and, sadly, the young man who was the inspiration for "Handsome Dave."
That last and most recent death has hit hard. I should go back and rewrite the botched/misunderstood kidnapping of Handsome Dave that cliffhangers the present arc (Frothup: Dropping In) to kill the character off, and I'm having trouble so doing. In real life, there was no memorial service, per his wishes. I've tried to write one for the character, or the lack of one and reactions to that, and the process stalls early and hard. In addition, I began the series at a time when work was relatively stable; staff changes, equipment changes and staff reductions have reduced my pool of character models. I'm working on that -- it's a big world, after all, and full of people -- but it's not an easy process for me.
So I'm stuck. I'm hoping to take some time to pull the long-delayed story arc into a sophisticated editing program (Scrivener) and write a synopsis, from which I may be able to move forward.
* In my family, my basement full of workshop and radios along with my house full of books, has long marked me as "the weirdo." Some of Dad's siblings had similar traits, especially my uncle Alfred and his wife (in their case it was books and small-engine parts; he was a gifted mechanic) and Mom's parents were deeply into books in a genteel manner, or I'd suspect I was adopted.
7 months ago