Guest Post by Sarah Baethge


A Funny Thing That Happened

When I Was Writing Panoptemitry

By: Sarah Baethge thumbnail_cover

A funny thing that happened… well I’m not sure that’s exactly how I should describe it. The one incredible stroke of luck that changed everything was something nearly, let’s say cosmic.

The book got its start little differently than anything else I’d ever written. Just a random stray thought I had turned over in my mind a few times until enough of a story had evolved that I couldn’t resist trying to write some of it out. In fact I got to playing with the idea enough that I played with a little image program on my computer and produced that image up top that I’m now using as a book cover.

I stamped it with my made up word of Panoptemitry. Later I decided my fake word was probably misspelled (if anyone actually polices the spelling of fabricated words), but I liked my stars enough to refrain from trying to redo the picture. I did mean it to be a mix of the words pan- and -optometry so it would mean something like seeing everything.

The story ran its course and like most of the stories I begin trying to write out without putting any thought into some sort of outline, my inspiration dried up and the story petered out after little more than a week. I have heard more than one author warn that erasing what you’ve written is foolish if this happens, and I think my laptop has something ridiculous like 222 gigabytes of memory, so I have a couple of folders set aside for stuff I’m not currently working on.

It’s a good thing I didn’t just erase it because that’s when the ‘funny’, or more like miraculous, thing happened. I suddenly got an email from telling me that I had won a free MSS-editing report from Cornerstones for a story of up to 100,000 words. The only problem is that they wanted a completed manuscript right away. Looking at my abandoned beginnings of stories, I decided that either ‘Panoptemitry’ or a rework of my semi-failed ‘The Speed of Darkness’ were the only stories that I could realistically finish before the end of the year.

Now both ideas truthfully needed something I hadn’t yet thought of before I could complete them, yet the pressure of needing to have something became an inspirational tool. I suddenly had the idea of my alien, Caytal to carry out actions I couldn’t realistically justify. I put all my effort into trying to just run with my slightly changed plan for the story as the 2012 Camp NaNoWriMo started.

NaNoWriMo is a fun contest in which the contests try to pressure themselves into writing 50,000 words of a complete novel within a month. The summertime ‘Camp’ NaNoWriMo actually has two separate sessions, so I decided to try and use the concept and the support provided from this ‘contest’ to fill out my manuscript of Panoptemitry.

My final product actually only had about 62,000 words and I didn’t finish until around October, but what came of the hurry was really more enjoyable than I was really ready for. I am so glad that I wrote my book in this way because the process of writing just became almost fun.

I have said before that I would refuse to work at completing a story before I had a clear idea of the ending. Although the ending of Panoptemitry wasn’t solid in my mind more than a week before it was glowing back at me from the screen I wouldn’t change a thing about how I wrote it. The story may not be quite what I planned at first, yet I like it so much, I doubt I will try to rework it.