I think my favorite line is “I wish I could kill you, and get away with it.”
Archive for November, 2010
Several years ago I worked at a gas station. Behind the register there was a counter where we counted out our drawers. There was an older woman who worked there who liked to talk. One night I worked the shift after her, so while she was counting out her drawer she gave me a rundown of everything that happened on her shift. One of the big events was a guy came in looking for someplace. She didn’t know where it was, so to help the guy out, she called 9-1-1. I had been half listening to her, but when she said that my jaw figuratively hit the floor. She was turned away from me, so she didn’t see my reaction and continued with her tale. I convinced myself that I had just heard her incorrectly.
A couple of weeks later, she was again telling me about her day while counting out her drawer. The big event for that day was a stray dog running around. So she “called the police – the non-emergency number …” I guessed I had heard her correctly when she said she had called 9-1-1 for directions, and I guessed she had received a talking to by the police about that.
The reason I told this story on a writing blog, is because there are always stories of people calling 9-1-1 for directions, because they didn’t get their chicken McNuggets, or to report that someone had stolen their drugs. In the real world there are people who are – for the lack of a better term – stupid. But what about the fictitious world? If I wrote a story about someone calling 9-1-1 for directions, I bet a lot of readers would criticize me for using unrealistic characters.
I’m in the slow, tedious process of putting together another collection of stories. Part of the process is digging up stories I started years ago, but for one reason or another never finished. What could go wrong finishing up some stories?
1) The reason I never finished them is because they don’t work.
2) I can’t remember where I was going with the story.
3) My writing style – in particular the way I approach a story – has changed over the years.
For the third case, I pretty much scrap the story and start over from scratch. Stories that fall into the second category I give a dignified funeral and bury them in the Tomb of the Unknown Stories. Now the stories from the first category – which at the time I thought was groundbreaking, but which I now see as amateurish at best – I beat to death and hide the bodies.
I keep a small notebook in my coat pocket in case I need to jot down an idea for a story. At some point, I transfer this over to my regular writing notebook. Recently, while I was transferring stuff over, I saw an idea I had for a novel. I had completely forgotten about this novel, but everything came back when I saw the note. That depressed me because it’s a great idea, but because with my 8,000+ other projects, I’ll probably never get around to writing it. Now, as an example of why I have 8,000+ projects, as I felt sorrow for this story that will never be written, I thought, That could work as a story. I thought about it for maybe ten seconds before I realized I’d already written a story like that.
This morning – as I groggily dreaded my alarm going off – I had a fantastic idea for a story. It began with a being (who I called the puppet-master) takes human form in order to get a closer view of his human puppets. What the puppet-master failed to realize was that the humans had turned the tables and the puppets were now controlling the puppet-master. In my humble opinion, the storyline was exquisite in its brilliance.
Then my alarm went off and I began the slow, uphill battle to full consciousness. Once I was fully awake, I thought back to my brilliant idea and realized there were a few, minor, plot holes. For example, how did the humans turn the tables on the puppet-master? They … just do. Who cares about details?
I spent the day wondering how many exquisitely brilliant ideas have shriveled in the light of day, or sobriety.
Just over a week ago, I decided to take a break from writing. I’ve been reading, relaxing, critiquing, and I came up with an idea for a novel. But I didn’t do any writing until today. After work I went to my local coffee shop and started writing the main speech from “If I Had the Powers of a God,” a long, short story I’m working on. The main reason I started writing this is because it has been on my mind – for years – and I’m sure “If I Had the Powers of a God” will be a fun story to write. It’s a scifi geek’s dream. All sorts of scifi stuff shows up in it. A TARDIS, a Terminator, Borg, an Alien, a Predator, a Vorlon, a Shadow, a bat’Leth, a denn’bok, a sonic screwdriver, even a Monolith. It’s not scifi, but I even make a Lord of the Rings reference. There will be so many things in it, that it’s just fun. And I think that was what was missing in my writing these past few months. And this was a good way to get back into it.