('Quark') and Larry Nemececk
(author ST:TNG COMPANION) spoke about the worlds of science fiction non-fiction and fiction writing while at a book signing at the West Hollywood Pavilion Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles yesterday. Shimerman has completed his second book in the MERCHANT PRINCE series, about a hero who time travels into Renaissance times, while Nemecek, who is also the editor of the STAR TREK Communicator
, drew on his experiences penning the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.
Shimerman says his favorite DS9 episode actually gave him a unique opportunity to draw on ambitions as a writer.
"The best of STAR TREK is when it deals with social issues," Shimerman said. "'Far Beyond the Stars', which is an episode about writers, science fiction writers... it's an episode dealing with none of the characters personally but they all find themselves--the actors find themselves--writing science fiction, and like 'Toto' in THE WIZARD OF OZ when he pulls back the curtain and shows you who the 'Grand Wizard' is, that's what we did in that episdoe. We pulled back the curtain and said 'you know what, these characters are all wonderful and we believe in them and we're very happy to perform them, but let's pull back the curtain and show you the guys who write these characters and deal with them'. That is my favorite episode. Not to mention it also was a brilliant, wonderfully deep episode about racism in the U.S. and that, more than anything, is why it should be watched."
Shimerman says discipline is ultimately very important when writing fiction, something he accomplishes by setting aside time each day to write. For him, a 20 to 30 page outline is also critical in this process.
"If I know that it's time to deal with this in the outline, then that inspires you," he said in response to one attendee's question about the writing process. "I can't imagine writing a book without an outline because it keeps your feet to the fire, it keeps you on the path and compells you forward all the time. Also the need, just the need, to write five pages. One of my ex-writing partners, David George, says you must write every day and that's what you do. Even when you can't write anything you should write because the great thing about computers is you can delete it the next way. But just write becauase somewhere in there you're going to find something that's creative, that's truthful."
Nemecek suggested that in his experience writing non-fiction, sometimes extremity is the best way to conquer writer's block.
"Sometimes just give it a rest, and other times just plow through it. For me, [I just go] from one extreme to the other," he said.
Shimerman, who also collaborated on the DS9 novel THE 34TH RULE with George and Eric A. Stillwell (assoc. producer, THE DEAD ZONE), has appeared in both BUFFY and STARGATE SG-1, as well as served on the Screen Actors Guild board recently, says creativity shouldn't be constrained, even if it leads you beyond your outline from time to time.
"You do get carried away sometimes on a tangent and you want to spend more time doing that," he said in response to a question about those times when a writer's imagination seems unbridled by the outline. "What I do, because I have a responsibility to myself to write five pages a day, so that's what I write about for that day. After I turn the computer off and have gone to bed I stay away not going to sleep trying to figure out where will this fit in, what juncture will I get to this later on. But you should allow yourself to do that because the creative part of your brain is telling you to do that and you must follow that."
Shimerman will also appear in a new stage production at the Alliance Theatre in Burbank, CA this Friday, a project which he joked required his attention immediately.
"Right this moment, even though I'm sitting in front of you, I'm actually rehearsing a play," he quipped. "The moment this is over I have to get back to Burbank to do the play, but I am doing THE HOSTAGE, which is a British play by Brenda Behan, and we open on the 20th of June."
You can purchase THE MERCHANT PRINCE and the ST:TNG COMPANION from Amazon to help support TrekWeb.