This was my first big story attempt that started in my first college creative writing class in the mid 90s. A whole semester focused on a first chapter and the result was a mess. Even worse than it’s name. Lots of action, guns, and crazy technology, but nary an emotion to be found. Many years later I took it to a year long writing program at UW that focused on Vogler’s The Writers Journey. I learned so much, but in the end I had a bunch of disparate scenes that were great, but didn’t really fit together any more. It was like some old car in a garage with parts all over the floor; All of the parts were there, but I had no idea how they went back together.
The idea was a hardboiled, noir story in a near-future sci-fi setting. It borrowed heavily from Blade Runner, Frank Miller (specifically his Sin City and Hardboiled books), and Wild Palms (no, it’s not porn, it was a 90s TV miniseries). One thing about writing near-future sci-fi: you need to get it done quickly. Some of your stuff may come true, which would have made you look like a prophetic future-thinker (I’m looking at you smartphones and Google Glass). I’m trying to trust that when I get back into it, I’ll figure out new near-future stuff.
It needs a ton of editing and a lot of technology patches to be applied, though I’m figuring out how to do the editing now with Water Hazard. This could be a Darling in Need of Killing, which would be a fitting end for a noir story, but I want to give it one more shot.
I was a very different person when I started this one and we live in a very different world now. My own relationship with technology has changed, and I no longer see the same future that I used to. I think the power of this story is going to be about how people can connect personally in a culture that is hyper-connected cereberally, but totally disconnected inter-personally. The emotions that came into focus when working on it during the UW class clearly drew a depressed person fighting for some sort of meaning in his life and lacking connection with the people around him. It got pretty dark.
Monk with Sword … ?
Yeah… that’s about as far as this NaNo 2012 project got. I completed the NaNo word count, but man things really got clunky about halfway through. There are a few scenes and characters that I still love, though. I’m going to do something with this one someday.
This concept is fun because of the idea of the old martial arts school master/student dynamic and what happens when the student realizes that the master does not have all the answers… or maybe none? I have had a number of times when I have worked my way up into higher-level positions only to discover that the people at that level really didn’t have any answers either. They just got to make stuff up.
The spark: mostly just an exercise in trying to write some martial artsy fight scenes that included detail yet still flowed as quickly as the action did. Not sure I ever achieved that, but there were a lot of fight scenes and an actual story fell out of them.
WTF, Contemporary Fiction?
It was news to me, but maybe you don’t need monsters, crazy technology, or a guy with a sword to tell a compelling, emotional story? In NaNo 2015 I started with a blank page and no idea and wound up writing about a bachelor who winds up having to adopt his middle-school-aged niece. It’s clearly about me dealing with issues of fatherhood and what it means to be a man in our current culture. It hits a little close to home on many points and feels a little too private to share. Not sure if this will ever get developed or will just be my own auto-therapy. Maybe this is one of those projects that needs some emotional distance.
At Hugo House I also wrote a short story based loosely on my dad’s death. I think it has some legs, but I have no idea what to do with a short story, and don’t really have the time right now to figure it out.