I talk about ‘my novel’ a lot. Really, there’s more than one.
The first, well, second if we’re going by what was written in what order, is my contribution to Epic or High Fantasy. It is nowhere near ready for prime time. I wrote it, then I trunked it until a later time when I can devote the energy and time to it that it deserves. Next came my Urban Fantasy piece – more on that in a minute. Then Evermist, a romp through a world where Trees are the greatest danger on the planet (cuz they will kill you). And, of course, the untitled Space Opera I’ve been teasing on the site recently.
Those are my projects. Oh, the first novel – yeah, about that – It was called ‘Blankman’ or ‘The Blankman’ depending on my mood at the time, and was the story of a man who wakes up in a hospital in Nevada with no memory of who he is, where he came from or why he was found lying naked in the middle of the Nevada desert. Worse, people keep showing up all the time trying to kill him. He goes on the run, trying to figure out who he is and why there’s people trying to kill him. Memories start to come back, but they don’t make any sense, are jumbled, or show him places that don’t exist. I wrote this when The X-Files was on the air so take from that what you will. Trunked it.
These days my focus, when I focus, is on the Urban Fantasy. For the longest time I have called it simply ‘Sam Kane’. It’s about a young woman working as a police officer in Denver. One night, some crazy shit happens and she gets sucked into the world of the supernatural and has to cope. The timing is really bad as there are things going on with her family; her dad’s dying, brother’s rebelling, mom’s checking out and not dealing – it’s actually quite good, if I do say so myself.
But I keep tearing it apart. I think this really is the biggest problem for any creative person – always thinking that it can be better. Never letting go and saying – this is it, The End. With Sam Kane, I wrote the book – I typed The End, then I went back through and said, “oh – this will never work, oh – have to change this bit, oh – no one talks like this, oh – this character is useless”. I won’t rehash all of that again – I’ve already blogged about it.
What I will say is this – I gave it a title not too long ago. It came to me one night out of the blue and stuck in my head. “Sam Kane: Into the Fire“. Nice, right? The story itself deals quite a bit with fire and fires and her whole life seems to be on fire and burning out… trust me, it works.
With that in place, I found myself re-energized for this story but still not happy, if that makes sense. I looked at everything I’d done, all the little pieces I’d written or tore apart or redid, the outlines, the notes and I realized that the only person who could bring this story back together and make it cohesive again is me.
So why the fuck wasn’t I doing that?
Part of it was everything that I’d written. I looked at all the drafts, all the words, thousands and thousands of them. It was weighing me down. It was a chore. It wasn’t fun, it was like working on the worst job you’ve ever had. Think about it – multiple versions over years, pieces where I grabbed this bit of text and cut it in half, taping another bit in from over there, and then I stapled this bit from a previous version on the end just there because it sounded cool and thinking, ‘oh, I’ll go back and smooth out the rough edges later…’
No. I won’t. I won’t go back. I’ll go in a different direction. Again. I’ve done it too many times already. I know my own habits. It’s easier to do this than wade back through that mess…
In the back of my head, the little writer voice that has started to sound an awful lot like Mur Lafferty, said, “Maybe it’s time to trunk this idea and move on.”
What?! No, Mur! No! I can save it! I have the technology! I can make it better, faster, stronger… It’s a good story full of really great, complex characters. I throw all sorts of emotional crap at my heroine and it knocks her on her ass, but she keeps getting back up because she’s a kick-ass woman who doesn’t take shit from anybody! …so it isn’t fair that I’m the one keeping her down because I’m not writing.
Mur’s voice again: “Well, then you know what you should be doing…”
I should be writing. Right, right – it’s all on me. Sigh. Stop being all in my head!! Marco & the Red Granny 2 isn’t going to write itself!
I know the story I want to tell now. I know the characters, who they are, what’s going to happen to them, how the whole thing unfolds – I’ve already done that. I wrote all of the stuff before so I would know. It wasn’t waste of time or effort, it built the world on paper and in my head. I can do this.
So I started fresh. I opened up Scrivener two weeks ago and told it I wanted a new project, a novel in parts. It asked me what to call it. I typed: Sam Kane-Into the Fire and clicked save.
12,000 words later, I’m writing this post…