I’ve been working my novel, so far I am up to about 8,500 words of notes. Actual story, about 1,500. At this rate I figure I’ll have to have about 200,000 words of notes with maybe a 50,000 word book. I might have to rethink my work. One thing I was thinking about, was past failures to complete projects, and some of literary works that have influenced me.
When I was in my teens I developed a test for apocalyptic science fiction novels and movies. I devoured books like, Earth Abides, Always Coming Home, Alas Babylon, The Time Machine, and On the Beach. When I couldn’t find enough of those books I read dystopia novels like Brave New World, Animal Farm, Player Piano, and 1984. The list just goes on with depressing books I read back then.
When I wasn’t reading these books, I was at the movies watching things like Planet of the Apes, A Boy and His Dog, Damnation Ally, War of the Worlds, Mad Max, Logan’s Run, Omega Man, Testament, and The Lathe of Heaven along with the film versions of the books I read.
By my late teens I had decided that I wanted to try to write a novel. I started out with great enthusiasm. I wrote some notes, a couple of scenes, and then let life interfere. In 1983 ABC aired a made-for-TV movie with the title, The Day After. It was a depressing film and not exactly a great work of film making or story telling. It was more a statement on the dangers of nuclear war.
What was even more depressing was the fact that the novel I had envisioned was also titled, “The Day After.” Yup, they stole my title and I dropped the project. Which is likely just as well because the PBS movie, Testament was largely the same story I was planning to write – except mine had a few battles between the survivors.
And thinking back, I have to admit that my book idea was mostly a rehash of every movie I’d seen and every book I’d read. I think it was some time after my fifth viewing of On the Beach, that I finally realized two important things: I wasn’t adding anything new and I hadn’t really thought out the plot.
That coupled with the feeling that I wasn’t mature enough in my writing skills made me put the story aside.
Now, many decades later I feel like I am in a different place. I’ve had more life experiences, I’ve read more widely than the Sci Fi isle, and have even studied a number of Shakespeare plays. I’ve also written much more and feel more confident in my writing gift.
Looking back can be useful as it can help us avoid past mistakes, but it also has its dangers. It’s far to easy to spend too much time there.
Today, I look back to see where I’ve been, in hopes that it helps me move forward.
Till next week,