Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My Never-Ending Journey to Figure Out Who I Am As A Writer

I feel like this is a redundant statement on my blog at this point, but I've had a bit of an epiphany in my writing recently.

Perhaps that's what the story of a young writer is meant to be; a series of epiphanies that eventually lead to some profound work of art. If so, then my brilliant work of art is just around the corner, because I've been having an epiphany just about every month lately. Sorry I haven't taken the time to tell you about all of them. At this point I couldn't even tell you off the top of my head what they are, I'm just so epiphanous.

But enough tooting my own horn.

This Novel I've Been Writing For Three Years Doesn't Represent The Type Of Novels I'd Like To Write

Oh boy. I really shot myself in the foot three years ago and I didn't even notice the gaping hole until a month ago.

You see, although I started writing my current work-in-progress novel out of genuine interest and excitement, in retrospect I think I took my peers’ praise of the original short story a bit too literally. Rather than interpreting their praise and desire for more as “this was good, I want more of this story,” I wish I had heard it more like “you’ve got talent, keep it up.”

You (also) see, I distinctly remember going to my then-fiancée now-wife with this praise and struggling to make use of it. "They want more of this story," I said (verbatim - because nobody can prove otherwise). "The thing is that I don't know if I have any more to tell. Then again, I'd like to try writing a novel, so why not start with one that people already want to read?"

Yes, dear readers, I chose to write a story about a neurotic college girl in a casual sexual relationship with a married man as she begins to fall in love with his wife because I desperately wanted to be read, not because I felt the magnetic pull to get this story out of my head and onto the page. For this I am somewhat ashamed to admit, except not, because I'm an egotistical narcissist. Anyway, eventually I thought of more story to tell, so I set forth starting to write it despite it not exactly being in my wheelhouse.

The thing is that just about all of my short stories before that one were much darker in tone. They often featured emotionally-detached nihilists who were faced with an extreme and emotional situation, such as:

  • An emotionally detached nihilist gets caught cheating on his fiancée with someone else's wife by that woman's husband, who's drunk and happens to be carrying a gun because he's a cop. People die.
  • An emotionally detached nihilistic writer and his emotionally detached nihilistic female independent editor/publisher get locked in a hotel room by some supernatural force, are mildly tortured by the same unseen force, grow closer together, but then she finds evidence that he might be behind it all in some creepy effort to seduce her. She wakes up and it might have just been a nightmare, except it also might not have been.
  • An emotionally detached nihilist gets a visit from the grim reaper who tells her she's got one week to live. She becomes depressed, angry, stops caring for herself, and at the last minute manages to trick the grim reaper into taking her innocent sister's life instead of hers. That bitch.
  • An emotionally detached nihilist living in a safe zone in the post-zombie-apocalypse gets infected but retains most of her humanity. She eats a lot of people. This one's actually pretty funny.
And those are just a few of the ones I actually completed writing. I've got a huge document full of other ideas I never got around to. Can you believe none of those have been accepted into a literary magazine? Conspiracy!

Anyway, I think that darkness is a mood that I really thrive in either despite or because of my lighthearted carefree exterior. As a coworker recently told me, "sometimes you just have to have an outlet for darkness in your life."
So much darkness! He could explode at any minute!
Anyway, although the main character in Nothing But The Boots is still kind of an emotionally detached nihilist, she's pretty upbeat about it and nothing dark really happens.

What's more is that I've recently become obsessed with space. No, not the dimensions of height, depth, and width within which all things exist and move, but outer space. More specifically, I'm drawn to what I've recently learned is termed "hard science fiction," or science fiction stories that focus on scientifically plausible concepts, physics, and possibilities. This fascination started growing on me around the time that I realized that Interstellar may be one of my favorite movies of all time, and it led to me reading more science fiction and overall just being fascinated with the stuff.

The problem here is that Nothing But The Boots is an incomplete work that I've put years of work into and is not set in space. I really, really want to write something set in space. I've got about three relevant novel ideas already queued up and one of them has potential to be a series. Seriously guys, this might be my true calling.

Side-note; I used to think sci-fi was only a stupid genre for uber dorks who liked reading about green women with three boobs fighting space worms. Why didn't anybody tell me there was another way, or just sit me down and force me to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey?! I could have avoided years of self-discovery and aimless wandering!

So here's the plan. I’m still going to finish this draft of my novel, because it’s been three years and I need to prove that I can write a novel that makes sense and deliver on my promises to so many people. Then I'm going to send it out to as many publishers and agents as possible, get it published under a totally different name so as to not get anyone's hopes up when my next novel is about a group of people getting stranded on a derelict space ship and killing each other off instead of a whimsical sequel to Nothing But The Boots in which the main character finds herself in yet another wacky sexual conundrum.

Then again, this could all change in an instant, right? I'm having epiphanies on the regular now. Maybe tomorrow I'll realize that I prefer writing about emotionally-distant nihilistic sexually adventurous green women who get stranded on derelict space ships and are forced to literally eat their own parents, but until that day comes, that idea is free to anyone who wants it.

So yeah, I'm pretty much living in constant mental agony of being torn between what I feel obligated to write and what I know in my heart I need to write. It's fun.

Read some of my short stories based on writing prompts at

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