So what happened to swing the story in this entirely different direction?
Well, as a friend of mine is wont to say, let me tell you this about that.

        I started to get twitchy about the story, and about writing in general.  I'd
been in a slump since abruptly ending Doors, and of course I was getting
e-mails asking when the story was going to continue, as well as the usual
spate of people wanting character A to get together with character B.  I felt
kind of trapped by the weight of what I'd written, and thought I understood
what had driven Arthur Conan Doyle to kill off Sherlock Homles that time.  He
wanted a clean slate, I think, and so did I.  Or at least. to write something
without expectations, without people asking me why I was writing this instead
of what they wanted to see.
 
        So I started writing a story under a pen name.

        And that was a blast.  I had numerous ideas, but finally settled on one
featuring characters from Sailor Moon and a weird OVA called Variable Geo.
Why those?  Well, why not?  It certainly hadn't ever been done, and VG had
something that I liked hidden in its daffy premise of waitresses battling for
the entertainment of the masses, with the winner stripping the loser naked.
The character of Reimi Jahanna, in particular, had a certain sensual menace
that caught my eye, and I wanted to use her in the same capacity as she
appeared in that series; not a villaness, per se, but someone with an agenda,
a complex character whose motivations could not be summed up in a sentence or
two.  And although Sailor Moon was quite a well-mined source, I had an idea I
figured was orginal enough to be worth writing.
 
        And so I released the first two chapters.  It was recieved well enough, I
suppose, but the important thing was that I didn't feel constrained, that I
was writing freely and enjoying it.  I wrote four full chapters and part of
the fifth, although I think I only released the first two.  Then something odd
happened.

        I found a path through my troubled child story.

        I wavered over what to do, but in the end I abandoned my second project to
start up Clear Day once more.  Nobody has ever, to my knowledge, connected the
two stories, which I find a little strange.  After all, I worked out some
ideas that ended up in Clear Day in that story; Minako even appears as
Mistress V, name, leather, and all.  A few months ago, someone on the FFML
even was looking for two stories which he described; one was Clear Day, the
other was the story I wrote under a pseudonym.  How's that for weird?
Although, they do both share a sort of atmospheric similarity, I suppose.  It
was a dark and differnent little fic, and I feel bad that I never finished it
or even got those written chapters out into the public eye.  But I still
could, someday, and I still may.  It remains a story with a lot of potential,
and I'd like to do it justice.  Until then, I guess it'll just moulder quietly
in my computer.

        So.  The SM element now made it into the story, and it took a whole new
direction.  The city of Saeni became the setting, not the ship with its misfit
crew, and so I began to flesh it out, along with its gods and government and
history.  I enjoyed the experience and, although it took one more draft, it
led me to where I am now.

        Notable about this draft are a couple of things.  One is that Ranma doesn't
show up by the time I end off here.  The details of his meeting with the
senshi are hazy to me now, although they would have been somewhat similar to
the way he met Usagi and Rei in the final story.  The most distinct
difference, though, is that this story takes place while the senshi are still
under Hotaru's roof.  You can see that the characters of the Inner Senshi are
a little different here, less a unit than they ended up in the final version.
There is more dissension and wariness between the girls.  Also, although it is
hinted at, Hotaru's true nature has yet to be revealed (although Usagi would
have found out the hard way by the next chapter at the latest, precipitating
the crisis which would have sent these girls out into the world just as
Darkness was coming).

        Also, the mysterious force behind the airship and the vision Rei has is a man
here, not Wynneth.  The airship crash is gone into in great detail (which I
later abandoned, not wanting the reader to have to wade through all that to
reach a familiar character).  And the characters' pasts are slightly
different; Rei was trained as a pleasure girl, not a Sister, and Ami had no
Aethyr travelling abilities, but the essential conflicts remained between
them.

        I went back and read these after promising to send them to someone.
When I started re-reading them, though, my interest was piqued and I started
considering letting the readers have a look at how the story had come into
being.  I actually kind of wish now that I had stuck with this version of Day,
with the girls still living in Hotaru's mansion.  That's the occupational
hazard inherent in going backwards instead of forwards, I guess.  What might
have been, and all that.  But I can't abandon the story now, and I don't
really want to.  It's just the potential, the possibilities, that excite me
still when I look at these unfinished fragments.

        Still, after I finally got Clear Day rolling, response was generally
positive.  Some folks wanted more Ranma and Akane, some objected to the sexual
undercurrents that were introduced here, especially the yuri elements.  One
reader actually asked me to write her when I got back to decent plotlines.
Well, you can't please all of the people blah blah blah, and I should know
better than to try.  And I do, really.  I'm happy with what I've written, more
so as time has gone on.  And if I look at these unborn stories wistfully and
wonder what I could still make of them, well, so what?  I have a story to
shepherd along now, and readers to prompt me if I take too long.  And if the
pressure gets to me, I always have that pen-name to go back to ...
 

        Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this trip through the evolution of a story.  It
may give some insight into the way Clear Day turns out, although probably it
won't.  There's no lesson here, it's just all for fun.  So I hope it was.

Ciao.
 

Mark