So, a few years ago now, I wrote one of these entries about what happens when you write something and later realize it's crap. The entry in question was about Chapter 3 of A Kind of Drug and how I wrote quite a volume of pages before I realized I hated it and had to start from scratch.
Well, hoorah. Cause I've done it again.
Before I even finished my newest short story - A Single Sentence: Tyrants, Heathens, and Other Men of Grace - I realized there were elements about the story that were rubbing me the wrong way. But that's not infrequent and they're usually issues that I can polish up in the editing process. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times.
About a week or so ago, I realized that I pretty much hated the story. It wasn't awful, per say, but I didn't like half the characters, the pace, and even the overall plot was something I had not only used before, but in another A Single Sentence story to boot. So, after a lot of thought, I decided I'd be throwing the whole thing away.
Now, a lot of the base plot elements I was still happy with. Even one or two of the characters I still liked. The general world as it existed I was happy with, I just was unhappy with the direction that I decided to take it in. So, I thought about it over for a few days and, on Monday, took the idea from scratch and decided to come up with an entirely new plot.
The good news is, I did it. The bad news is, I still have to write it.
This means there is a negative 5,000% chance I will have a new story done in a week. I plan on begin writing again tomorrow night and at this point I have no idea how long it'll take for me to finish the story. I usually don't. It's one of those things where I just sit down and write and eventually find out if it's a 10-page story I'm writing or a 400-page story. (I thought Apocrypha would be about 15-20 pages before I started writing. It was 40. A Kind of Drug was originally a 6-page short story. Now it's 600 pages.)
The title of the story will also be changing. To what, I'm not sure yet. I'm throwing a couple of ideas around. But with the plot changing so violently, the original title doesn't make any sense. I might call it The Oracle of Babylon. I might call it The Third American Civil War. I might call it The Seven Gods of Parliament. I might call it none of those things.
But overall, my deepest apologies for building this story up for months and then dropping the ball at the last possible minute. I'm a dickhole. I know.
So, I never gave a proper update when I put ‘Apocrypha’ online 2 weeks ago. Why? Cause I’m a big fucking asshole, that’s why. (Actually, it’s cause I didn’t get my edits finished and it uploaded until nearly 1am on a school night and I went to bed without ever making the post. Then I forgot about. Sooo, eat it.)
But, because I’m a swell son of a bitch, I decided to make that post now. And tell you all a little bit about the story’s background while I’m at it. Cause that seems like the cool thing to do.
‘Apocrypha’ began as two separate story ideas that I jammed together into one. The first was ‘What if it was mankind’s purpose to destroy the earth rather than save it?” and the second was “Humans (organic life) find it relatively simple to create machines & computers (inorganic life). Does the opposite apply? Would a machine find it easier to create an animal rather than another machine?”. Then I took those two ideas, combined them together, and gave them a MASSIVE dose of religious undertones (if you didn’t pick up on that, look up what the word ‘apocrypha’ means). As for the sciency stuff, some of it I learned along the way (like Von Neumann Probes), some of it I already knew (like the Fermi Paradox), and some of it I plain made the fuck up (like Speaking in Tongues).
Honestly, I found it funny that no one had ever thought of the whole “speaking in tongues” thing before (or, at least, no one has to my knowledge). I’ve read & watched a lot of science fiction over the years and having lots of alien species communicate seamlessly with one another is an issue that comes up frequently. It was also one that I had to mull over for a while, too, since I knew there’d be scientists from all over the world during First Contact. Why would The Machine know English and not German or Mandarin or Swahili? Or what if he did? How would he communicate those languages all at once? And this is when you learn to never be satisfied with your first idea. Cause my original idea was to have The Machine learn all of the Earth’s languages during the 3 days between the cowboy event and the scientist summit. Then it could just speak different sentences to different people as needed. The problem there was still the cowboy event. How would it say “This is awkward” to the cowboys? I debated deleting the line, but it just had too much weight. It was such a funny line for such an epic moment, it seemed wrong to remove it cause I was being lazy and couldn’t think of a better solution to my problem. So, I thought about it some more and realized The Machine shouldn’t even speak in language. If it’s so advanced, why is it using just simple, auditory syllables strung together into words & sentences? It should speak almost psychically, in bursts of thought that are simply understood or translated by the recipient. This, of course, would mean it would be speaking not just every language on earth at once, but every language in the universe at once since any animal capable of thought would be capable of understanding The Machine. Really, I never got into it, but technically The Machine could speak dog and dolphin and llama, too.
So, there you go. That’s how much thought went into just that little segment of the story. Honestly, in a lot of ways, ‘Apocrypha’ was harder to write than ‘A Kind of Drug’. All those technical bells and whistles required a TON of forethought, not to mention properly mixing them all together to get a story and not just a jumbled mess of information & ideas. And this has just been all the technical crap. I mean, none of this even gets into the characters of Lou & Eden. Or the religious subtext. Or that I was pissed that there’s currently a brilliant comic book being published called ‘Saga’ (cause that’s what I really wanted to name this story before I chose ‘Apocrypha’).
And I’m tired now. And this post is excessively long. So, I’m going to go now. Till next time. Cheers.
First update in 2 months. Which is fair since I haven't really updated the site in 2 months either.
Now, I should've updated it a few weeks ago when the print version came out (on 12/12/12), but it was the holiday season and I was busy as fuck all. It only occurred to me the other day that maybe I should come back here and tidy things up for a moment. Soooo.....I have.
Apart from that, not much else is going on at this exact moment. I'm in the process of beginning to look for literary agents who will hopefully take a look at A Kind of Drug, think it's the best thing since sliced bread (which isn't really that great to begin with), and try to get it actually published. We'll see how it goes.
I've also nearly finished working out all the kinks and details to my next writing venture. The story is called "Apocrypha" and will mark my first foray into the territory of science fiction. No worries, though; there will be no laser beams or alien wars or anything cheesy like that. Nor will it be a novel. I'm not entirely sure how long the story will be when I'm finished with it, but I'm guessing it'll be somewhere in the ballpark of 20-40 pages. As always, I like to tell the story just until it's complete and not really worry about the size of it.
And yeah yeah yeah, I know. That's what she said.
So nothing more for now. Hope you're all doing good out there in TV Land.
No, that does not mean I'm a man who's always on the go. It means I'm a man who never shuts up. If you ever meet me, you'll probably say, "When the hell does this guy ever stop talking?"
Or, in other words: "Did this guy really just write a 150k word novel and then decide to ramble on about it for a few more pages?"
The answer is yes, yes he did.
So today I give you a couple, SHORT pages of random notes on the book. Where some inspiration came from. How the book took shape. How long I've been working on it for. Etc, etc.
And with that, I'm off. I am hungover and underslept (surprise, surprise) and desperately need to go....and.....I don't know. Do something else.
If you've made it this far into A Kind of Drug, you should notice I have a penchant for lengthy dialogue. I much prefer conveying character and story through witty banter than through exposition.But when your novel devolves into a one man show, that sort of becomes tough.
Mythmaker II has about 4 lines of dialogue in it and none of it is directed at an actual person. By this point in time, I was finding it increasingly difficult for me to tell the story because all I wanted to do was skim over everything and just get to the part where dialogue starts up again (yes, it happens soon). So, I mostly had to force myself to write this entire portion of the chapter and it was excruciating.
Wait, this has all been way too serious.
Uhhh....taco sauce? Dirty underwear?
Fuck, I need a drink.
Geez, where to even start....
I had the first idea for A Kind of Drug so long ago, I can't even remember it. Well over a decade. Long before I ever had any desire to be a writer. The idea was simple: What if a language existed that you could understand without learning it and what if it could spread like a disease? I then just sat and toyed around with this idea in my head for years upon years.
Eventually, around 2004, I decided I wanted to see if I could write. And so I wrote a short story called "DjerRUckqS" about a man living in a post-apocalyptic world that had been destroyed by Words. About four pages into it I said, "Shit" out loud. I realized that there was too much material in the short story and that it needed to be a novel. And so, a year later, I came up with the idea of creating a chapter centered around each different Word. I thought about calling the novel "A Kind of Drug" and thus the core of the novel was birthed. Again, this was 7 years ago now. (Oh, and I plan on releasing that original short story once A Kind of Drug is finished. I can't release it yet cause the endings are still very similar. Don't want to ruin the climax for all of you.)
But anyway. Due to college and life and work and existence, the idea sat on the shelf for another 2 years before I decided to try another hand at it. But my original idea was to not "start at the beginning" with Rapture and Beth Vacey. I wanted to start 2/3 of the way through the story with a crazy, dense, dramatic chapter and then, with chapter 2, rewind back to the beginning.
However, after talking to numerous professors and fellow students, they told me I was a fucking idiot and that I should just start at the beginning like a goddamn adult. Which I obviously did.
But by the time I decided to listen to them, it was too late. Chapter 1 - Wrath - was already written. I had penned the story of two guys, practically alone in the world, and scared to death of people Addicted to Wrath. But the world of that old chapter and the world of A Kind of Drug as you know it today are radically different. And in a thousand ways, I'm glad for it. I'm much happier with the direction I chose to take with the novel. Starting from the beginning turned out to be some good advice.
Either way, I figure a lot of you might get a kick out of what A Kind of Drug looks like in a sort of "alternate universe". This was how I originally envisioned the world after Despair, way back around 2007/2008. If you've ever read it, it's sort of reminiscent of Richard Matheson's novella, "I Am Legend" (which is way different from the Will Smith Zombie flick).
Anyway, keep an eye out for the pieces of story I obviously decided to keep and the ones I obviously decided to trash. But overall, I hope you just enjoy the read and you're much happier with what I chose to do with AKOD instead.
Thank you. And good drunk.
So, if you read my facebook/twitter comment yesterday, then you already know that half of Wrath IV was rewritten last night. Which sucks shit. And really makes me question the quality of the piece that got posted. But that will happen sometimes. No matter how many times you read something, you won't realize how awful it is until the last minute.
The point of Wrath IV was simple: it was to demonstrate the very serious reality that there might not be a cure for Words outside of permanent Addiction. That this might be it. The buck stops here.
(Yes, believe it or not, every single one of these "conversation" sections that are nothing but dialogue, actually are all building to something. I'm just taking my sweet ass time getting there.)
Anyway, while I'm confident the five or six pages get that point across, I'm still not completely sure if everything was said in the right way and in the right order. In a normal world, this is what an editor would be for. To smack me around and say, "Hey, that sucked, dickwad. Fix it before I have you writing for fucking Archie Digests."
But que cera. That's just how the dough rises sometimes. And what happens when you read a serialized novel by an amateur.
Please forgive me. And send bourbon.
Wrath III is now live. And when I originally wrote it, it was about 3 pages longer. The content generally centered around our surviving duo hopping to a few different places in Orlando as they explored what was left of the now dead city. There were a few gruesome scenes (like a man who ate ground meat until he vomited and died) but overall, nothing too amazing happened in those few pages.
Which is why they've been deleted. Essentially, it was boring as shit. It's what happens when you sometimes try to make a story super realistic. You sometimes forget that all that extra detail is not interesting, it's tedious and pointless. I mean, I haven't written about anyone having a bowel movement, yet I'm sure the characters still poop.
The point is, sometimes what you write sucks. And you need to know when to press the delete key.
So, Heartlessness III is up and, yes, is a little on the short side. But most of the time when I write these chapters, I'm not thinking of definitive places to start and end each part. Sometimes it happens naturally and sometimes, it does not. In the case of Heartlessness, I think the entire last 2/3 of the chapter flow pretty seamlessly and so I had to pick and choose where to start and end each part almost just by page length. So some parts are a little longer and some a little shorter. Part III is just one of those parts that got the axe a little closer to the tail. Which means stuff ALMOST starts to happen.....but not quite. So, sorry for the dick-tease.
Aside from that? Well, I sort of have to poop. So I'm gonna go now. Later.
So, Heartlessness II is up and all that jazz. Though this post is about 12 hours late. This is what happens when all the pre-work you do on your website the night before doesn't save (for whatever fucking reason) and then you wake up in the morning to find you have to do it all over again. This can be a problem when you have things like, oh, a job. So, needless to say, things did not go according to plan with the update this morning. These errors have now all been corrected.
Anywho, today's update is my way of trying to speed things along a little. Personally, I didn't want to write a book like Cormack McCarthy's The Road. Mostly because it's already been written. So, while I did play with the idea of really getting into the gritty, every day emotional battle that was this new world, I opted not to. I felt there was enough going on with the story that it was unnecessary. Also, I decided that it wouldn't really make a whole lot of freaking sense for the narrator to pore over page after page of serious emotional detail after some of the most trying experiences of his life.