Last night I was chatting with someone about writing–they were asking how the edits on my current story were coming along, and they are fine, thank you–and the discussion went in two directions: one, we talked a little about the stuff I used to write when I was just putting things out on fetish sites, and two, what did I do before that? (We also discussed depraved sex scenes in Harry Potter, but who doesn’t?)
What I did, a very long time ago (1989 can be a long time, right?) was to start a science fiction novel that would end up, at least in my own mind, epic. I spent weeks working up note on characters, locations and the world background; I worked out things like orbits for planets (which in the course of the story would be important) and discovered after a week of messing with them that I’d wished I’d paid more attention in high school math classes. (At least these days I can plug a few numbers into a program and, BAM!, I got your Goldilocks Zone right here–)
The more I talked about it the more the person on the other end of the computer was asking things like, “What’s it about?”, “Who are these people?”, and most of all, “Why didn’t you finish it?”. That last . . . well, it’s a tough one, something I think about from time to time–
The novel came out at right towards the end of my first marriage. A little before that, actually, but it was there. My first wife, Audrey III, was a bit strange when it came to my writing: she encouraged it at the start, became indifferent and bored with it in the middle, and towards the end didn’t give two shits about it or me. She wasn’t about complex stories about people from different lands and times, mental illness, love never found and love that is desired: no, she was about something really simply that she could get through in 5000 words or less.
Just as an example: one of her favorite sayings of the time–late 1980’s, early 1990’s–was she had trouble with Stephen King because he was “too wordy”. “Too wordy” is one of those expressions said by others that make me want to do physical harm to them, and not just in a “I’m gonna punch you” way but more like in a “I want to stab you multiple times, carve you up like a turkey and set you on fire–and then tell you I wouldn’t waste my time pissing on you to put out the flames” way. “Too wordy” to me is the equivalent of “TL:DR”, which is but another way of saying, “I’m a freakin’ illiterate moron, you need to spoon feed my ass ’cause big words are hard!”
Anyway, before the divorce came along I was getting worn down mentally. It wasn’t just the book–it was everything. Novel, marriage, life: it all sucked. And after the divorce I couldn’t write at all. I was in a bi-polar tail spin from which I almost didn’t recover. The fact I’m writing this means I did pull out, but I didn’t write at all for a while–
1999, to be exact. That’s when I pulled the novel out and gave it a polish. Not exactly a rewrite; nothing new was added. It was done with the intention of cleaning up the story and then continuing. That went on for about a month and then–nothing. I didn’t have any passion; there was no feeling behind my work.
I was only going through the motions.
So it again sat. For years. I did a few notes here and there, and even expanded upon what I thought would happen to the characters as their lives progressed (I love time lines), but I didn’t do anything else.
Then I started in on my “fetish writing phase” and actually began telling stories again. Sure, they were about people clad in latex and women turned into dolls and stuff like that, but I was writing. It made me feel better, and it started to give me an audience, and . . . it made me think about my novel.
Well, not right away. There was a point in the summer of 2006 where the family and I scooted off to Europe for three weeks, and we did a fair amount of travel there. I set us upon a “Grand Tour” that involved trains and at least one plane, and for one leg–Barcelona to Lyon to Paris–we spent about 8 hours over three days traveling by train. Now, one of those trains was the TGV, and if you ever want to experience something great, try zipping along at 180 mph in very comfortable surroundings: it’s a wonderful feeling.
I still wasn’t on about my novel, thought. During that trip toe Lyon I remember working out the time line for a game I wanted to run. I won’t say which one, but by the time we arrived in Lyon after 6 hours of travel, I had something like 15 years of events worked out. That’s how I roll, kiddies.
When I returned from Europe–the rest of the family stayed behind for 5 weeks–I bought a new computer (the one I am still using) and did some thinking and then started in on my novel again. This time I rewrote; I changed things up a bit; and, most importantly, I wrote new material. I got to one section I’d wanted to get to for a long time, which was a fight between the two protagonists. We’re not talking about a slap down here, or fists flying. Both protagonists are very skilled with telekinesis (hello, science fiction!) and there is a bit of throwing people into walls and smacking them around at a distance–and the breaking of bones without ever touching the other person.
I showed this part to my friend last night, and they read it and the comment was, “WOW, that’s some battle!”. And it was a very hard one to write, because I don’t enjoy hurting my characters, but when you have to, you best come prepared to lay in a great assbeating.
But the conversation didn’t end there . . . of course not.
I was encouraged to finish it. The novel has been a huge undertaking: I’m well over 250,000 words, and that’s either due to being unable to edit myself or just being plain “wordy”. But it seems like it’s what’s needed to tell the story. And I think I’m about three-quarters of the way thought the novel, so . . . am I really up for what could be another 85,000 words?
But I did come up with an idea: take what I have an put it all into Scrivener, which has become my bestest writing friend. The novel is in sections, so once I have every section set up and each chapter laid out upon the cork board I can look it over, have it make sense and get down to some real editing.
This story has been with me for what seems like forever. It would be a shame to let it die. But the story is very personal in a way, and that means getting into parts of my mind that are a bit scary–and we know how much I like that.
It is a story to be told. It might be a strange story, but I own it. And if I own it, I should share it.
They’ve been waiting for so long to talk . . ..