My Bibliography

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Is the future bleak... or not?

Not doing myself any favours is perhaps the biggest favour I can do for myself... at least on my first step over the Himalayas.  (See my post entitled, My Writing Journey over the Alps).
Generally, when I write anything, an unknown force carries me off over an abyss of imagination, and before I know it, a first draft is on 'paper'; yes, new characters, new environments and a new obsession borne, and I look back at them the next day when I'm 'grounded' and wonder just who wrote it.  'Did that come from my mind?'  But I'm used to that; never have had any idea of what I'm going to write until the words start forming on the page almost by their own volition; one leading to the next, one sentence becoming a paragraph and so forth until a short story or novel has been created, ready for editing a million times over.
'Ad-lib' writing, I call that.  Yes, generally considered prolific, easy for me I have to say, but I've become complacent almost, arrogant even, maybe; thinking that my oh so wonderful imagination meets no boundaries.  But concentrating lately on the technical aspects of writing, I haven't been flexing the muscles of my mind's eye as I might've, and I like to think that might just be responsible.  Yes, I've always thought that I can write anything, even following the impossible rubric in other people's projects, like a writing site competition that makes me create stories that I might otherwise never think to do - or at least, feel that I have good reason to do anyway - and strangely, I think, some of my best work has arisen from those challenges, long since knowing, that they've made me grow as a writer and which is why, I suppose, that I love to do them.
And so with all the editing I've been doing lately on my earlier works, to try and reflect in them, something, at least, of my ability today, it's been strange to come back into actually creating something new.  Exciting.  And instead of getting on with any number of projects already incubating, the kind of thing that I'm used to doing, I found myself responding to a call for submissions for an anthology about time travel stories, a book to be published relatively soon.  'A piece of cake', I thought, 'it's what I do, lo-ve time travel stories.'  But then, as I read the rubric, it scared me a little, in a good way though, a challenging way; calling for a focus on time travel but set wa-y into the future a la 'The Time Machine' by H G Wells, together with a strong suggestion that it shouldn't be character based either - one of the things people say that I do best.  Humph. So... no time travel into the past, and no wonderfully nuanced character driven story beating from the heart of it all?  Can I do that?  Let's see.
I realised then, that even though I've always only used low fantasy in any of my stories (mostly in regards to time travel) that going into the past might have restricted my imagination at least a bit; only ever having sent my characters there and never to the future.  No, that's something I've only ever flirted with, never actually having gone in for a kiss let alone second base.  I wonder why, exactly, because I love the thought of travelling to the future.  And don't get me wrong, when I do go into the past, I try to avoid the most popular historic events and all those rules about time travel that seemed to have evolved by their own volition; aware that I should keep my stories fresh, preferring to have them relative to my characters as opposed to history, hopefully bringing something new too; mixing up the ingredients in a blender with lots of options, various functions, fancy buttons, in the same way I experiment with fresh fruit margaritas in the summer.
And that's all well and good, but what of the future - thousands of years, millions, even, into it?  Well(s) that's a whole other kettle of fish, I've come to realise.  Slightly daunting too, I found, as I tried to set out on that abyss of imagination that, rather strangely for a bottomless pit, I've become so familiar with, for it's time indeed to ask the future for a date (pun completely intended) but instead of kissing me, something from that endless chasm came up and 'nutted' me hard; finding there only every subliminal influence of everything that I ever saw on Star Trek and Doctor Who.  'Really?'  And if you know me, I do strive to come up with my own inventions, 'my job to as a writer' being one of my personal steadfast rules.  No, I don't want giant vertebrae having a glass of wine with their plate of human, a rare delicacy, nor do I want humanity to be walking around as cyborgs.  But what then?  H G Wells already created a more simplistic setting, which was my first thought, an organic utopian nature about it - even if one evolved human species did try to eat the other, if I remember correctly.
But a good thing; obviously telling me that this is the next step in my writing journey, making me realise that it was high time I pushed those self-righteous limits, for yes, there might be limits after all... no, obviously, there are... for I came back down to Earth in a different way altogether this time; not wafting back lackadaisically as a feather, no, landed hard on my ass on a jagged rock, the message loud and clear that I hadn't actually been anywhere at all; no new world created yet, none in sight either even if I had trailed the first 5,000 words on a rocky path that's going to take me to whatever dystopian society, if indeed that's what it will be, waiting to be created in the next 5000.  And it will; I just need to get better hiking gear.  But even as I write this blog post, I know I'm avoiding the issue, waiting for the universe to come and whisper in my ear for  I've tried to force it, but my best ideas don't come that way, no, they come when I'm standing on the deck looking at the mountains, walking in the park with the dog, in fact, when I'm doing anything else but trying too hard and then usually without a pen to jot them down, trying to repeat them to myself all the way home.  Yes, the abyss can only be flown on its terms - but I have to say that it's being a stand-offish little bitch this time, hasn't flown me across it in a while.
What I've written so far has already been extremely difficult; a word count in a first draft that I could normally push out in a day, has taken three, and a story that's made me want to give up on it numerous times.  But I don't do that, for it would haunt me, no, always finish what you start for in it's end will be a new beginning.  A good thing, though, I should think, means it's difficult, perhaps more intelligent even, or, then again, maybe it sucks and I'm just out of my depth?  Not my genre, after all, maybe, time travel, even if going the other way into the past is.  But, gladly, upon writing the second draft, I find I'm happy with what I've set up thus far, and where it's all going - wherever that might be, for I still don't know - and it's sufficiently different from H G Wells' story too, the inspiration; having injected some of my own familiar unpredictably and dark humour into it - that element just happening like it normally does, navigating the abyss even if I did have to get a push start here and there, stalling every now and then to contemplate the future as I found I needed to.  Yes, I've brought what I consider to be a Jeckyll and Hyde 'effect' to it; good turned evil, bringing the main character to a point where he just can't stop himself from taking pleasure from his newfound abilities, but also bringing an element which I don't think I've ever read before anywhere and which has told me how the story will end - for once.  But I'm still not entirely clear where, when and who will be there in the future of that Earth that I've yet to create to be able to reach that end, and why they will be.  Challenging indeed.  But I love it.

I've only got a few days left, but that's alright; the publisher's already said that due to the short time frame, first drafts, and unedited submissions are acceptable, and if necessary, will be edited by them - even if mine will be as polished as it can possibly be because I'm a bit particular that way - but then, even if it isn't... I know a certain someone who, apparently, created a world in only seven days, and obviously didn't have the time to revise either....


Update: Feb 2013 - the story mentioned above, now completed, was 'loved' by the publisher, and will go through an editing stage.  

In the meantime it's published in my anthology, 'Desolate' along with some other pretty strange stories: Desolate - short stories and poems.


  1. So exciting, thanks for sharing the process. Love how you think! All the best in the future...

  2. Ahh lol, it took me a minute to get that Jean... very good. :D


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