Editing Transference (2)

When I did the huge rewrite on Commences, a number of plot changes inevitably occurred that affected the next three novels in the quintet.  Since I’m now working on the second of these novels, I thought I’d better check my old notes to see what – if anything – needs to be changed in Transference.  So far, I can’t find anything.  A character from the fourth novel, who appears in a different, unrecognisable form in Commences, also appears briefly in Transference so changes regarding this character need to be found.  Failing so far.  Can’t find my damn notes for the fourth novel!

But I did find the notes for Commences.  They are gobsmacking.  I can’t believe how much there is.  There are as many notes as there is novel.  One massive folder, crammed.  And the complexity of the novel….dear god, no wonder I collapsed after completion, a collapse so severe I virtually ended up with a personality-change!  (Or, should I say, old, misunderstood aspects of my personality re-emerged, which was a bit frightening…)

I can barely understand the novel’s complexity – is it any wonder that no one else will?


I also found a sheet of paper that is very funny:




  1. The author is not known in any way, has no claim to fame and has no celebrity status.  She’s not married to anyone famous, has not had a scandalous past and hasn’t had a career in any spotlight.  She is not young, exceptionally beautiful and she doesn’t have giant bazookas.
  2. She might have a scant resemblance to J. K. Rowling (15 years ago) in that she’s a single mother with a young daughter living in a top floor (no lift) council flat (starving in an attic!), but COMMENCES is not a children’s book, is unlikely to be translated into Martian and is impossible to film in two hours.
  3. It could, however, be filmed as a TV series but who would watch it?  It’s not dumb enough for Doc Who audiences and no one wants their sci fi handed to them on a philosophical plate.  No one has sex with bot-girls and no one is looking for Earth.
  4. Speaking of sci fi, where are the space ships?  The seven page description engineering details?  Where are the weirdo aliens?  The futuristic Earth?  Why isn’t there a cute AI in it?  And shouldn’t the time travelling stuff be like, well, you know, travelling in time?
  5. “Surreal science fiction/fantasy”:  does this genre exist?  Isn’t “surreal” just an excuse for a lack of organisation?  Isn’t wafting about in a dreamlike state really boring?  And if it’s surreal, why is there so much sex and violence, action and drama, love and loss?
  6. Worse still, COMMENCES is the first of a quintet of Fleet novels:  the ending is so open you could drive a truck (or a spaceship) into it.  The next novel is set several centuries into Earth’s future (but not on Earth) and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with COMMENCES at all.  Does the reader have to wait until the fourth and fifth novels to find out What Really Happens?
  7. How do you market anything that is too original?  How can you sell an author when they are incomparable?
  8. Or does original = a mess?  Incomparable = out to lunch?


Is it’s unmarketability it’s marketability?  The book you can never understand because the author’s head is lost in [alter] space.


About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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