Why and How I Wrote About A Vacation In Space

For as long as I can remember, but especially when I started to write my own stories, my dad talked about how he had always wanted to write a story about a family taking a vacation in space. It's was a straightforward and simple idea (those are often the best ones). Writers have plenty of ideas they never work on, and this was one of those. So yeah, my dad never got around to writing it, and with him having Parkinson's, it was just never gonna happen.

I had been participating in National Novel Writing Month since 2002, so in 2007 I was looking for something to write about. I remembered my dad's idea. I was pretty sure he was never going to get around to doing it (Parkinson's hadn't yet robbed him of that ability), but I thought this might be my chance to do something cool and unique for him.

We visited California that year. I purchased a little notebook and brought it with me on the short camping trip we took together out to Ocotillo Wells, CA. He drove, and I grilled him for plot points and details. We hashed out the major characters and the major events. I've collaborated with other author's before, but this was the first time I was really letting myself be guided by the story in somebody else's head. Really, I felt honored to be given the chance to realize somebody else's vision.

In November of that year, I hit the 50k word goal for Nanowrimo, but the story wasn't finished. This is of course where the greatest delay came in. Laziness and life all got in the way. I knew I had to add 20k more words to finish the story. I wasn't dedicating daily writing time like I should have been. I wrote in little bursts--an hour or two here and there while Lily was at gymnastics or karate--things like that. I comissioned my brother to do some internal illustrations. We finished, did some hasty editing passes. I printed up a couple of error-ridden copies through Lulu.com and gave it to him as a Christmas present.

The next year we visited, and I had the opportunity to read it to him--something I'll never forget.

But there was still much work to be done. The novel as published is on version thirteen, so I did quite a few more editing passes to get the thing in the shape it is right now. And it's still not perfect (I'm never 100% pleased), but sometime you have to actually release a project and move on to the next one.

Ultimately, as I got down to writing Space Vacation, the story (as they always do) took on some sort of life of its own. I'm sure I diverged from his original vision in many ways. The words may be mine, but the core inspirations for the story are and will always be my dad's.

I'm really happy my dad gave me the chance to do this for him.

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