Friday, July 5, 2013

On Trying and Failing to Write Novels

I've written before about my experiences, really my difficulties, with learning my writing identity, or what writing means to me. I'm still not sure exactly. It means expressing myself in ways that are difficult in person, living beyond death, leaving something behind, and giving others the pseudo-experience we get from reading fiction that often has more insight than actual life.

I've tried and failed several times to write something I imagined would become a novel.

11 yo

The first book I remember trying to write was a murder mystery game book at age 11 or so. It was a complete ripoff of the movie Clue but was also a game book so you can choose which suspects to follow, etc. I'd recently read a game book and loved it. I wrote the story out in a black-and-white marbled notebook I kept with me at all times. I wrote and drew in such notebooks. I had a ceaseless imagination. I still do. But, alas, those notebooks, I had many, were lost to time and I have no proof I ever made such an endeavor. You'll just have to believe me!

20 yo

Around this age I remember reawakening the idea of writing I'd lost for, well, a decade. It was a silly thing called Nightmare of the Apocalypse. About a girl falling in love with a vampire, unknowingly of course. Now that I think about it, that bitch Stephanie Meyer stole my idea! Anyway, the girl has a nightmare of the world ending, a premonition, that precedes a battle between Satan and God. When you're young and know shit about writing and watch a lot of TV, this is what you write. It was long and I strived to make it longer. I wasted pages upon pages describing room decor and crap like that. Luckily, my computer crashed and I lost this work.

24 yo

The next one I'll call Island. A half-baked SF novel about a group of people who find themselves stranded on the same ship and on the lamb. Some are enemies, lovers, etc. Set in the future, of course. I wrote 25,000 words of this damn thing, still the longest thing I have. It was a New Year's resolution. Well, before the year was over, I luckily realized it sucks. Every now and then I think about reviving it, but for now and the foreseeable future this stays in my "failed" folder (subset of "FICTION" folder).

26 yo

Then there's what I'll call Guardian. A novel about the human response to the technological singularity, long predicted by futurists. This is the time when machines become smarter than we are and what happens next. I wrote it before my MFA experience and now I can appreciate how bad it is. It has good qualities, too (it's pretty funny), but I'm glad it's unpublished. I don't know if I'll resurrect this piece, but if I do, it will have a radically different vision.

So that leaves me with no novels published! I'm working on that. (Like my FB page to get updates.)

What I learned about all these "failures" is, sometimes you change your mind. Hopefully, you grow as a writer. Even though I didn't publish any of these and some were lost or left unfinished, they mark my growth. I've realized that time spent writing is my time. Being a writer is very selfish, actually. Because most of one's time is spent cherishing the self through expression and imagination. If you write for others, good for you. But I write for me. If no one sees what I write, it doesn't take away the time I spent discovering who I am and have become. Maybe someone will see someday.

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