Short and sweet. Probably incoherent.
I plead a combination of jet lag, a virus and morning-after-Nyquil.
The Old, The New, and The Things I wish I’d Never Done
I think writers have to be pack rats and hoarders, otherwise half their good ideas would get tossed before they were ever written.
I came across an old YA SF adventure I’d written . . . Really, I have no idea how long ago. It was sort of a branch off a horror novel I tried to write. And on a reread, I really ought to finish it, fix my old problems with dialog tags and so forth, and publish it. The old horror attempt, however, was not to be found, not on even on the oldest backup CDs. And . . . I started wondering just which computer I’d written it on. Surely not to that old Apple II+ . . . but you know what? A hunt through piles of spiral notebooks, and there it was.
It may not have actually predated my first computer, but it was well before I switched over to electronic first drafts.
It’s kind of fun to find old stories. Oh, Sun Tap, there was a good one, probably broke half the laws of Physics, and all the laws of common sense. Things I barely recall writing, and some early stabs at my current SF/F series. Umm, good thing none of this was seen by eyes other than mine. I’ve learned a bit about writing since then. You know those million words we get told we have to write before we’re good enough to publish. Yep. Got ’em right here. But there are a few good idea I might use someday.
So, keeping the old stuff is actually worthwhile. Huh. Even stuff this old. Nice fresh ideas, beginner writing. Early beginner writing.
But right now, I need to focus on the new stories . . . Because the field has changed, and i need to keep up with the changes. Some of the changes are the result of the new ways to publish stories. And some because the world outside of writing has changed. The politically charged atmosphere has touched everything. The economic stagnation has affected everyone. And we’ve all gotten older. Some readers have died and some people have been born and grown old enough to start reading the sort of things I write. No one is the same as they were when I wrote those stories.
And my new stories have changed. Had too. I’m not the same person who wrote “The Blob.” Not kidding. I wrote something called The Blob.
Some of the changes since I penned those early tales are just gadgetry. The new stories don’t have to explain the computer in the pocket, the communicator, ditto. Makes me wonder if, or rather, how soon using what’s today’s cutting edge tech will date me.
The main thing I see about these old stories of mine is that I had no grasp of how to write the larger story. How to shape the whole into a coherent tale. I am, apparently, not a natural storyteller. I can see, in plain sight what I now need my beta readers to tell me. That I don’t have a clear story problem. That I don’t have try-fail sequences. The stories tend to have an introduction, lots of fun gadgets and imaginary places, and a “happily ever after.” Oh, and usually I remembered to have a villain of some sort show up and get defeated somewhere in there. Usually.
Gah. I hate to admit that’s a problem I haven’t completely conquered.
But my love of world building was there from the start. I had—still have—a clear sense of what ought to be up there in space.
Is Science Fiction able to steer the future?
I would love to think it could, but it’s obviously a hit or miss proposition. Some of the big things haven’t happened—yet. But the space habitats, the base on the Moon, the Mars Colony, the FTL or warp drive . . . . I may need to add a century to all my dates. But I’m not giving up on them yet. They can stay in the stories.
Papers on how FTL could actually work have started showing up. Genetic engineering and human animal chimeras are a current (and fast advancing) field of science. Multiple dimensions, check. No portals to alternate Earths, but can they be far behind? Okay. Centuries, probably. But they may actually exist, somewhere outside my imagination.
There was a discussion earlier this week about SF as prep for future shock. Oh, definitely. From FTL to zombies, we know the potential, both good and bad. And we’ve mentally explored several methods of dealing with the bad side. Well, with zombies it’s pretty much all bad. But that’s where SF slides into Horror.
As genres go, I’d much rather run head first into an SF future than the sorts of things in a horror novel. And all things considered, I’m glad that The Blob is the closest I’m capable of coming to writing horror.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Space Alien Blob cycled out of his amok stage, was horrified and went away. Ashamed of himself.
And . . . I can’t believe I’m going to admit to writing that.
So ‘fess up. What early works of yours have interesting ideas and horrible writing?