Infinite Loop Revisted
by Meghan O’Brien
I wrote Infinite Loop after discovering that lesbian fan fiction was actually a thing, and that (even better), there was an audience for lesbian original fiction online. I was twenty-three years old when I started Infinite Loop, and twenty-four when I finished (for the first time). My goal was to write the lesbian romance story I wanted to read—the one where the geeky chick got the hot girl, and they had lots of sex, and plot-driven conflict took a backseat to character-driven relationship-building. Prior to IL, I’d only ever completed a handful of short erotic stories. I’d never even come close to finishing a novel. Though it had always been a goal of mine, I’d never actually attempted to be serious about it.
This might sound cheesy, but it’s true: I decided to actually make myself sit down and write a novel in early 2002 because I was so shaken by what happened in September 2001. In some way, that’s when I truly realized that nobody can be sure of how much time they have, and if you really want to accomplish something, it’s not enough to imagine that you’ll do it “someday”. If you want to do something, you need to just do it.
So that’s how Infinite Loop came into being. To say that it was a learning experience doesn’t even begin to explain what this novel actually means to my writing life. I finished the first draft on December 31, 2002 (I was determined to complete it before the end of the year, damn it!) and posted it online shortly afterwards. I got some very nice feedback, which meant so very much and gave me the confidence I needed to keep going (a shout-out to those awesome peeps, some of whom are still loyal readers to this day!). Then I got an offer from a brand-new publisher, along with a directive: I was to rewrite the manuscript under the tutelage of a seasoned editor, who would help polish me into a better writer.
The second draft was better than the first. Unfortunately, the publisher that had expressed an interest folded before it began, and IL was once again nothing more than an online story. All was not lost, though. Having managed to attract some interest once, I decided to submit IL again. Regal Crest Enterprises offered to publish it, but with another directive: there would be a new rewrite with a new editor.
What followed was the single most excruciating, educational, and growth-inducing writing project of my life. Much of what Jennifer said contradicted what the first editor from the defunct publisher had told me. I was confused. Disheartened. Sick to death of reading and writing about Mel and Regan, and wondering why the hell I ever thought I wanted to be published.
Luckily, I stuck with it. I finished rewrite number three (months later), and then a few rounds of additional editing. Finally, in 2005, I became a published author. And I haven’t looked back since.
Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. This past summer was all about looking back. My original contracts for both Infinite Loop and my second novel, The Three, expired, and Bold Strokes Books offered me the chance to see them reprinted as “Author’s Editions”. This meant I would have the opportunity to do a light to moderate edit of both novels…a prospect that was exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
Editing The Three was easier. Despite the fact that it’s my least popular book (as far as sales go), it remains one of my very favorites. I enjoyed having the opportunity to tighten up the language, drop in extra sentences, reconsider word choice, and even change an entire line of dialogue that struck my thirty-four-year-old self as overly idealistic and naïve.
Infinite Loop turned out to be a real challenge. It’s no secret that Regan O’Riley bears a passing resemblance to a twenty-four-year-old Meghan O’Brien, and the road trip she and Mel take was inspired by a road trip I took with my girlfriend at the time. That book is the most personal I’ve written, and revisiting it is weird and awkward and just…difficult, in a way.
Ten years is a long time. I have a new partner now, and a son, and a unique family that brings me immense joy. I’ve written eight novels, published seven, and everything about the stories I tell—and the way I tell them—has changed. IL means everything to me because it’s the book that taught me to write, and the story that won me my first readers, but it was also an absolute nightmare to edit…both then and now.
I ended up changing less in Infinite Loop than I did The Three. I tightened up the language, addressed some repetitive language, and made slight tweaks here and there, but in the end, the Author’s Edition stays quite true to the original. Because it’s such a personal story, and because I’m so far from where I was when I first wrote it, I couldn’t dive into Mel and Regan’s lives the same way I could with the purely fictional world of Anna, Elin, and Kael.
My personal hang-ups aside, I’ve heard from quite a few readers that Infinite Loop is a favorite, a comfort book, a frequent re-read. That makes it so very special to me, and I’m pleased that I’m able to offer completists a new and slightly improved version of the book that started my writing career. I’m also pleased to have a chance to hopefully draw a few new readers to The Three. Even ten years later, the characters and the story still excites me. I totally get why a polyamorous lesbian relationship within a post-apocalyptic future might scare some people off, but I promise you’ve probably never read anything quite like it. Whether that’s good or bad is for you to decide.