Single Status Update
Thought I’d take a moment to discuss the book in general, thoughts on how it’s going at this mid-point. At this current second, there are over 40’000 words in a complete, linear form that go from chapter to chapter and about 10’000 words of rough draft waiting for me to pick over them. On top of that there are two chapters complete and waiting for the rest of the story to catch up.
On top of that, there are about 20’000 words of my previous, aborted novel that I would like to rewrite and insert into the mix somewhere.
As you can imagine, keeping on top of it all is a complete fucking nightmare. Subplots need tied up, need to interconnect to other subplots; all of it needs to be used in the ultimate (and top-secret) conclusion. Characters need to be kept busy, kept at the forefront of the action and not allowed to fall idle and forgotten. Running jokes need to be kept running. Above all, the style of the writing must be kept flowing from chapter to chapter.
It can get on top of you.
And at the end of it all, I’ve got to read the motherfucker through to the finish and then edit it, which will basically mean rewriting it from the arse-end up.
So, in this little breather I’m talking, I thought I’d just go through my processes, my theories about writing and whatnot and suchhaveyou.
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I’ve always been a very fast reader. If I’m bored and like the book, I can smash it in about five hours. I’ve been reading mostly crap since I was young, my parents refused to let me watch Aliens and I thought, “Well, fuck you” and bought the Alan Dean Foster novelizations.
From that I progressed through all manner of pulp TV / Movie tie-ins, the Aliens series from Darkhorse publishing being particularly memorable. From there I bounced into Terry Pratchett and assorted trash Fantasy Novels, you know, the kind where there is a party of lesbian warrior women stranded at sea in their longboat. I tend to avoid what folks would call ‘literature’. I’m more of a student of the cult.
I’ve given up with Pratchett recently, been reading a lot of Asimov. Went through Fight Club with a pen and marked out all my favorite passages. Rediscovered Alan Dean Foster through his other, non-movie novels and was pleasantly surprised with his Commonwealth series. Re-read the Hannibal Lecter trilogy last week, found them curiously crap.
So, I’m not particularly well read. I do read a lot, but I tend to just rotate through a small library of favorites that litter my bedroom floor.
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I first tried my hand at writing a story back in school, about second year. It was, in retrospect, a piece of shit about a bunch of dwarves trying to fix their brewery (even then, alcohol was a main theme…). I read a lot in English class to avoid the monotomy of the lessons, preferring to read ahead rather than listen to the teacher read aloud to the class. Mrs. Duncan put me into Higher English on the strength of this alone.
My exam piece was about a school burning down in a comical fashion, with various characters looting, fighting and burning in rotation. I later rewrote that piece to give to Julia for her own RPR, on the basis that she couldn’t be fucked.
Higher English was insane. Honestly, truly insane. Mr. Duncan (the aforementioned’s husband) had a great passion for drama, which usually spilled over into the real-life assignments of the class and ‘emotions would run high’. Paul, Nellies, Neil Martin and myself would entertain ourselves by writing these crazy stories in the back of our English jotters and then passing them to each other. Paul, a master of the surreal, wrote many epic pieces about such characters as ‘Whale Dick Bob,’ a man with a hundred foot long penis that could stimulate women in the next apartment block whist sitting down, his mighty penis snaking around corners, through doors and down stairs. He would eventually come undone when he tried to use the lift.
Nellies, less talented than Paul by miles, would settle for second hand ideas cast off by Paul and attempt to exaggerate them. His masterwork, Attack of the Beermoths, was savaged by Mr. Duncan as being ‘complete crap’ and failed him the English prelim.
Neil Martin, less insane than the rest of us, would spiel Ian Flemmingesque spy tales by the dozen, and ultimately inspired my own masterwork of the time: Benn Gunn, secret agent.
It centered around the exploits of an 87 year old secret agent as he battled the forces of evil and his arthritis. I was chastised by the Duncan for using the metaphor ‘Chocolate Speedway’ in an exam piece. Fortunately, I stuck to my guns and refused to be censored. I passed Higher English, thank fuck, because I solidly failed Biology and Chemistry with a series of spectacular fuck-ups. The only other Higher I would pass would be Art, which was my most rollicking exam of all time, scoring me the highest mark in the class and pissing Mr. Fucking Waddle right the fuck off as I totally pwned his class pets.
Having left school, I went to college to study art, flunked badly, went to University for about a day, couldn’t be fucked with that. It was around this time that I started my first attempt at a novel, which was a serious piece about people living in a nuclear bunker post-apocalypse. I managed 10’000 words, which I thought was pretty mad for the time, before I decided that perhaps serious just wasn’t for me. Technically, I think this is my most sound work. It suffered during consequent rewrites and the thing just fell apart from too many different, conflicting styles.
So, scratch that. For my second attempt I stuck with the cabin fever motif and returned to an idea I had when I was about 16, writing a short story for a RPG campaign. I had a character who was stuck on a desert island with a bunch of loonies, Noah’s ark turns up and the loonies eat Noah and all the animals before sailing the seven seas as pirates. I managed about 25’000 words of this before I just ran out of steam and ideas.
Feeling pissed off and having wasted so much time on the Ark idea, I sat down one night and just started writing a pile of absolute gibberish with no reason, no characters, no real story and no morals. It is this that is my latest effort.
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The philosophy behind The Book is thus: Never, ever stop. As soon as you stop writing, the book will die and you will never go back to it.
The style I’ve adopted for this task is first person, unnamed lead character. The prose is turgid, needlessly elaborate and exaggerated. As is the story itself, which started as a silly little screenplay I wrote and has evolved into this monster. Originally, the story had one plot that would have been followed relentlessly. Now, I dread to think how much pointless bloat has been added in a desperate attempt to get the characters from one event and towards another.
I am enjoying writing it tremendously.
As I say, not a lot has been planned out. The ‘Gammy’s mother’ plot, the one that ties the beginning of the book to the end, was the only one really thought about. The rest have just… sprouted up from the words I’ve sewn.
I’ll give you an example. As I was writing chapter two, I decided that Andrew’s little sister should be playing with a dead hamster. For no other reason than a little bit of weirdness. Then I had the idea of the hamster, buried, coming back from the dead and attacking the heroes. And then I thought, why stop there?
The end result is the daemonic legions of hamsters beneath Manor Gardens, the real-life abode of Cocky. And rest assured, as soon as the opportunity presents itself, the satanic hamsters will be back.
It was at this point I decided to make the book as stupid as I could possibly manage. Everything is exaggerated, the people, the settings, the elements themselves. Everything is unreal. The world that these characters inhabit is utterly base, dramatic scenes are always drenched in rain and punctuated with thunder.
As far as characters go, there is really only one, and that’s me. The idea, the thing I’m going for, is that this story is the sort of thing you might hear in a pub. In days of yore, people would sit around the fire and talk of vampires, talk of third hand tales from distant lands. Talk of legends. That’s what I’m aiming at here, I’m trying to write a legend from a modern perspective, as told by the complete liar who is sitting before a pint and stretching his own exploits as far as he thinks he can get away with, making things up as he goes along. Fobbing off inconsistencies in his grossly fabricated story with greater, grosser fabrications.
We are talking crap here for crap’s sake, for the joy of crap. Occasionally I’ll feel the need to throw in a poem, a romance, a tragic death or an even more tragic pun. And why not? It’s entirely bloat, entirely filler. Once it is all finished, I’m going to write a 500-word version that contains exactly the same beginning and outcome.
Ok, here’s the metaphor. You’ve got two slices of bread, the beginning slice and the end slice, and there is a chunk of story ham in there. A bland sandwich. Add in some sub-plot pickles, some bad-joke cheese and butter each side liberally with irony.
Keep going until you have the Ultimate Sandwich. Maybe you don’t like the tomatoes, but there is so much else in there you probably won’t notice that they are in there. Add everything in your cupboard. Stick it all in a bowl, mix it and slap it all between that bread with resounding ‘FUCK IT!’.
Enjoy. This is everything I like. Bad movies, pulp literature, comedy so cynical, English played with until it twangs in agony and causes the stoic amongst us to tear his hair out. Alliteration, metaphor, disgusting bodily functions. People doing stupid shit for the point of it. Alcoholism. Cruelty to annoying animals, offensive comments, outrageous situations and outrageous resolutions. Religion, voodoo, cannibalism, music, in-jokes and out-jokes. Popular science. Anti-culture. I love this shit. It’s important. It’s educational.
When I sat down and wrote that first chapter, I had no idea that it would turn into something like this. This book is everything I hold dear, it’s everything that I am. I’ve poured so much into it. I poured my love for a girl who ragged on me, I poured my love for my friends and my own festering hatred for so many things. I called it an autobiography to begin with, and it was until I decided to scream ‘FUCK IT’ and made it retarded as sin. But, oddly enough, it’s become so personal now, it’s so full of my own prides and prejudices, it’s better than an autobiography. You get a better account of what sort of person I am from reading between the lines. What started as a truthful account of a night’s drinking gone wrong morphed into a completely outrageous lie, the grain of truth surrounded by layers and layers of shining pearl bullshit. It’s odd the way that metaphor turned out, with the truth being the crud and the lies being the valuable coating.
Blah, I’ve spoke enough I think.
Back to work I guess.
oh yeah, link
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I had recived one to many 'OMFG this is stupid I'm not going to bother with your shit' before they had even gotten like 200 words into it. It's disheartening, so I thought I'd try and write a non-biased piece on why it is what it is.
Eh, you're just unappreicated in your time. All great creators are. Would that I could be so, but as fate would have it I'm the envy of all my peers and a major stud with the ladies.
If it makes you feel better: I did in fact make comments like these, but I did actually get around to reading your stuff.