An Odor Of Rot And Desperation

Bone Cathedral At the behest of one Filamena, I decided to go back and evaluate old projects, complete and incomplete. Mostly for a lark.

It turns out, I’ve been writing a lot. I haven’t been writing anything particularly good, mind you, but I’ve been writing a shit-ton of crap. Let’s examine. (I don’t use the real titles here because I might just go ahead and reuse them at some point. In many cases, the titles were the best things about these garbage pits I used to call “novels.”)

Unfinished Projects: A Meager Sampling

July, 2001. Codename: Jenny Greenteeth. Book about surly faery intrusion upon world. Got 54,000 words deep before, I dunno, I feel asleep or something. Evaluation — ehh? Has some promising writing in it, to my surprise, but ultimately not very original.

August, 2002. Codename: Mack the Knife. Basically, guy experiences some really messed up hypnagogic hallucinations after a plane crash, and everything falls apart. At 33,000 words, let’s just call this one “forgettable.”

December, 2002. Codename: Demon Daddy. 10,000 words of confused prose — is it a comedy? Is it horror? Is it dark fantasy? Are these demons? Who’s that guy? Why am I wearing a dress? There lurks a very strong seed of awesome in this project,  but the seed lies in barren dirt.

February, 2003. Codename: The Box. I’ve tried to write this one… maybe five times? Never once do I make it past 10,000 words. See, it’s about time-travel. And it breaks my brain every time I try, because the plot purposefully deals with the exploits and paradoxes of time travel. The title is one of my Most Favoritest, if I can ever find a way to use it.

August, 2003. Codename: Angry Goddess Go Boom. Kind of says it all — I was, at the time, enamored of goddesses throughout mythology. I made it to 29,000 words,but also have a handful of files to go with it at around 3k a pop. The opening prologue is one of the better things I’ve written. Everything past the prologue… isn’t. Funny side story, I discovered an old mini-notebook of notes to go with this project. The notes actually hold up, and despite making the attempt in 2003, the notes themselves are from 1999. I’ll hold that a good novel exists in there somewhere.

April, 2006. Codename: Miriam. Story about fate and freewill wrapped up in a young woman’s deadly power. This one actually has promise. Dove deep into this one — a 65,000 word almost-finished original. The writing actually doesn’t suck, and the character of Miriam remains one of my favorites. See, the thing is, when I started with the screenwriting thing, I mentored under Stephen Susco, who, outside of being a generally rad dude from Bucks County making it big in LA-LA-Land, also had a chief specialty in “adaptations.” In fact, I won the year-long mentorship with a writing sample from this project. Stephen helped me adapt my own work for the screen, and I adapted this unfinished book. The script — finished — is, I think, pretty solid. Ideal goal would someday be to go back and re-novelize (adapt the adaptation?) the project with the plot from the script. (Mind you, this one is almost in the “finished” category — I did write an ending for it, novel-wise, but it’s horrendously “tacked on.” So, this one floats between “unfinished almost-crap” and “finished super-crap.”)

Finished Novels (At Least Into Second Draft)

April, 1998. Codename: Clowns In Love. My first novel, tops out at a slim 66,000 words. Not horror. A comedy love story. The dialogue is actually pretty entertaining, but the rest is mostly a slowly evaporating puddle of urine. Still, it was proof at an early age that I was capable of finishing something that big. A real confidence-booster.

February, 1999. Codename: Saint Agnes. 108,000 words. It’s a mess, but it holds a place near and dear to my heart, for it gambols about that totally awesome playground of Judeo-Christian mythology. It’s funny, and it’s disturbing. But I have to reiterate: it’s a sloppy goddamn mess. It’s like a drunk dude eating chili out of a Frisbee; the good stuff is all over the place, but it’s certainly not pretty to watch. This project is notable in that Kevin Smith inadvertantly ripped me off with Dogma. Seriously. Dogma came out later that year and had a number of ideas I’d used incorporated into it. Sadness Pie. In a perfect world, I’ll someday revisit this project. Also in a perfect world, I will dress in unicorn skins and be the envy of my neighbors.

May, 2002. Codename: Eldon and Eddie. It has some promise, this one — deals with bullies in a kind of interesting way, and has a weird alien-fairy horror thing going on (that sounds weirder than it reads — it reads way more like Stephen King than anything else I’ve written). Ultimately, though? It’s kind of boring. 99,000 words worth of “meh.”

July, 2004. Codename: Foul Weather Friend. This one never actually had a title. I based it off an experience we had where my wife and I had just moved into our first rental, and a small tornado attacked the house next to us and the park behind us, twisting trees like corkscrews. No weather service ever said it was a tornado, and instead claimed it was “windshear,” saying that reports of tornadoes were inaccurate. Lies. No windshear sounds like a freight-train approaching. No windshear twists a tree into a spiral shape as if by a large hand. Anyway. The novel has some cool stuff in it, but that’s it. Mostly forgettable at 102,000 words.

January, 2006. Codename: The Talking Dog Novel. Not horror. More YA, inadvertantly. Talking dogs. Ancestor spirits. A funny, shitty version of Watership Down with dogs or something galloping in at a cool 88,000 words. It’s okay. I like parts of it quite a bit, and it almost hooked an agent (thisclose). I think I was trying to be something that I’m not with this one. Not sure. Still confuses me a little.

So Now What?

I dunno. That’s the problem. What I do know is that I know have a hankering for a hunk of cheese — er, no, wait, I mean, “a hankering to write another novel.” I’ve got five solid ideas, plus the ideas above, to work with. I just don’t know in what direction I should wander. (And it’s mostly a meaningless thought process right now, anyway — like I have the time to write a novel? I’m developing two books. I’m working on two script projects. I’m working on one Vampire book as writer. Maybe once it all loosens up in June-ish? Could be, rabbit, could be.)