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The things I will never write

Like I suspect every other writer ever, I have a collection of stories of sorts that will never be written. This is – trust me – a good thing.

See, writers, whether plotter or pantser, tap into a kind of cultural gestalt, usually at a subconscious level. We can’t help it. Sometimes what emerges is so completely opposite our actual beliefs we look at it and go “huh?”. Or, like J.K. Rowling has done, try to explain it in a way that does fit our beliefs.

Let’s face it, what happens at the subconscious level is weird at best. The current theory is that most of what we do at any time is entirely driven by our subconscious with kibitzing added from the conscious mind. Certainly, a big chunk of writing works that way. I sit down, futz about a bit over getting started, then the rest just pours out without much in the way of conscious input from me. (Yes, yes, this does explain a lot). Every writer I know does this. And the subconscious doesn’t filter the same way the conscious mind does. It doesn’t parse out whether something seen is real or seen on TV. If it looks real it is real. The filters are a whole lot deeper, and probably not what you think they are (this is why in vino veritas and such sayings emerge. You loosen the control the conscious mind has and what comes out of the mouth is closer to the subconscious.

All of which is a long way around to saying that some of these never-to-be written stories are that way because (confession alert. Please leave now if confessions make you feel all icky) they serve to exorcise the worst of a particularly dark aspect of my subconscious. And by “dark” I mean dark. Evil.

It’s there in everyone, but we all choose to deal with it differently. In my writing I’m often exploring that shadowy area where evil can be harnessed to the service of good. Not surprisingly this tends to attract the attention of my darker side. If I let that out, I’d be writing the kind of thing that has no light. I refuse to do this. There’s enough evil in the world without it.

That doesn’t stop the story-seeds trying to emerge, although so far I’ve been able to keep them firmly inside my skull. I’m not entirely sure what would happen if they got out, but I am sure it wouldn’t do good things for me. Letting it out normalizes it, making the evil seem more mundane, more normal.

I’ve seen writers who’ve done this. It hasn’t ended well for any of them.

14 Comments
  1. I get this urge sometimes too Kate. If you can’t keep it bottled up write it in a SHORT short and then chuck it. I get the whole “It’s immoral to write if it’s not for money,” but if maintaining your sanity requires a form of immorality that’s not going to hurt anyone else so be it.

    April 25, 2013
    • ABE #

      What a good idea – writing it down in a short story.

      The novel-in-question, when I started writing it, icked out my writing partner. I went on to other things (not specifically to get away from it), but it sits there in the back of my mind, kind of lurking.

      Since it was never fleshed out, I never put all the hard work into developing more character, actually plotting it, and writing more – I think recasting as a short story might be the perfect place to put the idea, because once I’ve written a short story on something, the urge to turn it into something longer seems like too much trouble.

      Then, if fashions change, and it is suddenly THE thing, bring out the mostly finished short, polish it up, and stick it up on Amazon (or whatever beast exists our there by then).

      Sounds like a good plan. Thanks.

      April 25, 2013
      • Any time. It’s what I do with my crazy ideas.

        April 25, 2013
      • Kate Paulk #

        I’m sure I could find an audience. I’m not sure I could find a “me” afterwards, though. The immersion levels change you.

        April 25, 2013
    • Kate Paulk #

      Oh, this isn’t an “immoral to write if it’s not for money” thing. This is more along the lines of “if I let myself get too deeply into this material, what damage will I do to myself”.

      There are lines I need to draw. Consider the first three L.K Hamilton vs the later books and how she turned her character into her own evil twin.

      April 25, 2013
  2. My subconscious keeps getting great ideas . . . in areas I’m really bad at. I stand in awe of people who can write _accurate_ historicals of any genre. And I live in terror that political thrillers might actually reflect the way the government works, even if just as an occasional aberration. I may have to learn more about politics for survival, but darned if I’ll do it for fun.

    So until my subconscious can come up with the detailed knowledge of history needed to write a historical fantasy, forgetabout it.

    You hear that, Subby? Just shut up! I mean look at that WWI with shapechangers and Space Aliens! It is _littered_ with notes about “What does a British Army Sergeant’s uniform look like?” “Who was the head of Germen Intel?” “Did German Officer’s uniforms have metal buttons?” And those are just the things I _know_ I don’t know.

    April 25, 2013
    • Kate Paulk #

      Heh. I have yet to work out the reason my subconscious decided to torture me with the Overlord games as a really putrid Broadway musical. Complete with cheesy choruses of Minions. Thankfully I don’t remember anything of that dream beyond those two facts…

      April 25, 2013
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      But if I chuck ideas because I can’t write them worth spit I won’t have any left. 🙂 (I do sort ideas somewhat for what the execution needs, or deserves, versus what I can give them. So, the comedy built around all wrong biological ideas being correct gets fast tracked, while the spiritual whose idea woke me up weeping gets ‘do it right or not at all’.)

      That said, I suspect I need to re-examine my thinking on what stories I want to try to write first, and what ones I don’t want to write at all.

      April 25, 2013
      • Some of them, I’d love to read. Some of them simply take too much research, because I haven’t got the background and would have to start at such a basic level.

        The ones that are beyond my writing ability . . . maybe someday, won’t be.

        April 26, 2013
        • Dorothy Grant #

          Eh, you can always substitute a beta reader for research. I mean, recently my husband came upstairs, kissed me on the cheek, and said “Would you mind reading something from an author who’s on one of my email lists?”

          “Eh? Ok?” And so I did, and promptly realized that the author in question had no idea about how small airplanes worked or flew. Were she geographically close, I’d have given her a flight. Alas, she was in New Zealand and I in the USA, so instead I emailed her and asked “what do you want to accomplish with this scene? Where do your characters need to be, and how, by the end?” After learning that. I offered suggestions congruent with the realities of small planes to get her characters there with all attendant drama.

          There are folks with historical re-enactment hobbies, including WWI and WWII (The guy who owns a restored deuce and a half somehow always gets the calls “Hey, I’m moving, can I borrow your truck?”) If you search them out, you can find ones that love answering that level of detail.

          April 26, 2013
    • Have you considered doing the “file the serial numbers off” version of historical fiction into fantasy or sci fi?

      May 1, 2013
  3. TXRed #

    I actually wrote one of those stories. It will never go into the collections, even though the worst thing happens off screen. I can’t, in good conscience, put that in a set of stories that children might read most of (the last one is NC-17 and there will be a note in the collection to that effect). Heck, it would give a number of parents the chills. As for my personal dark patches? The rest of the world has enough trouble without my adding to it, thanks.

    April 25, 2013
    • Kate Paulk #

      Understood. More than that, digging too deeply into your dark patches has a way of making them seem less dark and more… normal. Which is not a good thing.

      April 25, 2013
    • I did that. Mine turned into erotica that only my closest and dearest have seen. (Okay, and some of you.) BUT that’s it. It’s not getting into books. And it’s NEVER being published.

      April 25, 2013

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