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Revisiting Things I Will Never Write

This isn’t quite a blast from the past, more an expansion on the blast from the past.

I’ve written in quite a few genres, and I have a fair idea where my mind goes and what happens when it does. This means there are places I refuse to let my mind go and other places it simply can’t go.

The blast from the past covers the former – the dark corners of my mind that could cause a lot of issues if I allowed them the kind of attention they’d get if I were to write them. That part comes first.

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.


The flip side of this – still entirely too accurate – Blast from the Past is that among the places my mind simply can’t go is pure fluff. I’ve tried. It just doesn’t work. That darkness creeps in (which is why I seem to spend so much time writing that shadowy area where dark hasn’t quite graduated into evil) and adds an edge. Or worse.

What happens when I attempt romance is possibly even less good. I wish I could write romantic fluff with happily-ever-afters and just the right amount of sexual shenanigans to sell the way romance always seems to do. Heck if people can make big dollars with dino porn, I’d love to be able to do the same sort of thing.

Alas, my mind refuses to go there. Every attempt I’ve made either twists or just dies. Usually both at once, and I’m not good enough to push through on skill alone.

So weird and whatever decides to take over my mind is what it’s going to have to be.

Of course, next I have to somehow carve out the time to start publishing myself because Life just keeps happening to my esteemed publishers, alas. That will have to be the next miracle, I guess.

34 Comments
  1. Mike Houst #

    There’s a story I could far too easily write about terrorists targeting children’s summer camps here in the U.S. Think of a combination of 9/11 and the lone wolf attack on the Workers’ Youth League-run summer camp in Norway. There’s some here with similar knowledge who could also write that story; but probably never will. Or if we did write it, just to get it out of our systems, we’d bury the manuscript, or disk in the back of our file cabinet. We don’t want to give anyone a blueprint on how to do it, or show just how easy it would be.

    January 17, 2019
    • Just so. There is a series that I may never get around to writing, but I do write every so often in it, just to clear it from my head for what I think I should be working on. Very Kratman (tone, not quality, sigh…).

      The pieces will be there if I ever do decide to pick them up, but out of my way in the meantime.

      I seem to remember RAH saying once that he had an outline of “The Sound of His Wings” (the rise of Nehemiah Scudder) in his file cabinet, but that was one of the stories in the Future History that would probably never be written – and it never was.

      January 17, 2019
      • Mike Houst #

        Oh man. To be given access to RAH’s file cabinets. I’d give up booze for a year for that one.

        January 17, 2019
    • Or… No. Not that it couldn’t be a really good story, but I don’t want to give the nuts ideas. There’s one type of attack that really worried me when I started working at Day Job, mostly for reasons associated with building lay-out. That weakness has been corrected, but every so often, the “what if…” creeps back in. My mind oughtn’t go there.

      January 17, 2019
      • It’s lIt’s like the “How could someone defeat airport security?” game I found myself playing in my mind when I used to fly (commercial). I stopped because it seemed far too easy – and I wasn’t giving it much thought, really. It was depressing in a sense. And some ideas.. are indeed best left unsaid. I did manage to forecast at least one TSA move, but I consider it to be both annoying and ineffective.

        January 18, 2019
    • Draven #

      I have one such story, written, but parked, because i now know it might give certain parties ideas.

      January 17, 2019
    • RCPete #

      I’m thinking of a discussion with a friend, and nope, I’m not saying anything any more.

      Kind of like Sherlock Holmes and The Giant Rat of Sumatra story he’d never tell.

      January 17, 2019
  2. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Passive Voice linked to a crime fiction reviewer (and contest judge?) who had posted a rant that conflated whether a investigative practice was valid science with whether it was good evidence. With the claim that psychological evidence or solutions were preferable. That inspired a desire for a heavily researched series where an arson investigator catches serial arsonists purely based on science type evidence. How to do that without creating a set of handbooks for arson? The arsonists are all stupid SOBs, caught because they are stupid SOBs who unnecessarily use an exotic accelerant that only they have access to.

    I’m spinning up a line of research that I suspect may give me an understanding that would make it easy to write TMI about infrastructure attacks, so I’ll have to add that to my watch myself list.

    January 17, 2019
    • I don’t remember which well known author it was who tells about writing on the plane and the fellow sitting next to her reading over her shoulder and more or less freaking out because he was homeland security or some-such and the terrorist attack she was writing would very likely work. He begged her not to publish it or at least to hold off a bit while they got that particular security hole plugged, which she agreed to do.

      Because writers really *don’t* want to give others very bad ideas.

      January 17, 2019
      • Kate #

        This is why it is a Good Thing that almost all the terrorists we’ve had to deal with so far are Very Stupid. Because if they were smart they would have done the sorts of things that we can think up instead of the mostly ineffective things they’ve done so far (that and they’re Very Stupid and like to grandstand).

        January 17, 2019
        • Mike Houst #

          Somehow I don’t think terrorists are big on contingency planning, multi-voting, brainstorming, risk analysis, corrective action plans, or root cause analysis.

          January 17, 2019
      • Evenstar #

        Didn’t some of Tom Clancy’s work seriously concern the government?

        January 17, 2019
        • Yes, and he fudged some things in either _Red Storm Rising_ or _Patriot Games_ (I think Patriot Games, the novel) because while the info was out there for anyone who knew where to look, his conscience bugged him too much to include the details in the novel. He talks about it in the afterword.

          January 17, 2019
          • No, sorry. It was _Sum of all Fears_.

            January 17, 2019
            • I donated most of my Clancy, but IIRC it was the nuke-making parts.

              January 17, 2019
              • TRX #

                …and you can download everything you need from DTIC. They took random bits down after 9/11, but last time I looked they had everything you needed for isotope separation, machining the bits, and calculating the yield. There’s also a lot of stuff from Sandia, Livermore, and other labs accessible to anyone with a web browser.

                “Your tax dollars at work!”

                Making it go bang just takes time and money. The tricky part is fabricating the uranium or plutonium bits. Those metals are harder than the clappers of Hell, work-harden past that when machined, they’re radioactive *and* poisonous, and they’re pyrophoric, which means they have a tendency to burst into flame at a hard look.

                We only officially lost one person, a physicist named Louis Slotin who had an oopsie in the lab. By comparison, the Soviets had little graveyards all through Arzamas-16, their equivalent of Los Alamos. Beria’s men had decided telling the workers about the hazards would slow things down unacceptably…

                January 18, 2019
    • The really good arson investigator in California turned out to have been setting fires the whole time. He just investigated himself. He also killed innocent people in fires.

      Other arson investigators were not best pleased when they figured this out.

      January 17, 2019
    • TRX #

      > How to do that without creating a set of handbooks for arson?

      Sort of ignoring the fact that your favorite search engine will return .PDFs of just such handbooks, written by the US Army, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Weather Underground, and the Taliban. I’m sure there are some from the IRA and PLO out there too…

      That horse not only bolted, the barn rotted and fell down.

      January 18, 2019
  3. Patterson, I link, in the books with the kids with wings, has a passage where they hot wire a car and the pov character (first person?) says… of course that’s not how you hot wire a car but I’m not going to put the real way to do it in a book for teens to read…

    Which could be responsibility or *could* be just not wanting to stop and find out how to really hot wire a car. 😉 Or just humor. I chuckled.

    January 17, 2019
  4. And writers wallow in it.

    Talking about the darkness and all… and JK Rowling. She talked about how upsetting it was that she’d written a death into one book and it was a really Big Deal and then you read the book and it was sort of like… okay, the mirror has him and he’s really and truly dead… next page and moving on…

    Because it’s different reading than it is writing.

    January 17, 2019
    • Kate #

      That book is still rather dark, but JKR doesn’t seem to have recognized the source of the dark because the source is so completely against her beliefs.

      January 17, 2019
      • Zsuzsa #

        Out of curiosity, what do you think is the source of the dark in that book? (I assume we’re talking Order of the Phoenix, though I guess that may be need to be clarified too).

        January 17, 2019
        • Mary #

          I was thinking Order, too. It’s particularly dark because of the paranoia and the denial and the suffocating combination of war and secrecy. The later books, you did not have to deal with all that denial.

          January 17, 2019
          • Kate #

            Mary – all that and the abusive government actions, with a teacher torturing school kids and all the supposedly responsible adults either ignoring it or oblivious. Big Government at its finest…

            January 18, 2019
            • John R. Ellis #

              That always bothered me. Ultimately, those last few HP books are -fraught- with examples of how a massive, sprawling bureaucracy is -NOT- a good thing, it’s prone to abuses and corruption and ultimately does -not- have anyone’s best interests at heart…and what happens to her young heroes when they grow up? They all happily -join- the bureaucracy. The…heck…

              January 19, 2019
              • snelson134 #

                Have you looked at the economics of Rowling’s world? I have a nasty hunch that government drone is the fastest growing sector for employment…..

                January 20, 2019
  5. I, too, have trouble with pure fluff or pure romance. Mind you, some of my stories get fluffy all on their own, and romance strikes right and left, but I can’t seem to initiate either, at will.

    I did manage–after a slow growing romance through six books–a wedding comedy that was definitely fluffy, but it seems to have been a one time thing.

    January 17, 2019
    • mrsizer #

      Meet the Family? I thought it was great fun.

      January 18, 2019
  6. So, basically, you never want someone to write you an “OH JOHN RINGO NO” letter…

    -j

    January 17, 2019
    • Kate #

      Oh, if some of my weirder notions find their way into print I expect I’ll get one or two. But there will still be things that I will never write.

      January 18, 2019
  7. Mary #

    Much as I enjoy them, I suspect I will never manage an epistolary novel

    January 17, 2019
  8. I’m finding that whenever I write, I’ve been tending to worry too much about how SJW’s might twist things.

    For instance, I have one story set in a fairy glade in the middle of a swamp, where one of the MCs is a deep, warm, brown color, which is unusual for the fairies in his community. who are mostly pastels with bright, sometimes metallic accents. The character takes a lot of guff from bullies because the local baddies, the Gorf, are also brown (except, they aren’t really, they are green and wear brown to help blend in with the swamp where they live, but as we all know bullies rarely prize accuracy.) The color and the bullying is important to the story, because it is a big part of why that character is such a solitary person, and also comes into play when he meets a dynamic younger female fairy (the other MC) who’s dream it is to join the guard… but she’s having a rough time of it because she has no metallic coloring and is having trouble with the fighting magic that the guard uses (The guard Cap. blames her lack of metal, but of course that isn’t it… exactly)

    I like the story (what I’ve written so far). It’s intended to be a story of two miss-fits who have seemingly impossible dreams, and in each other they find… well you get the picture. My worry is, of course, that SOME people will read it as racist, and attack. Because that’s what they do.

    January 18, 2019
    • TRX #

      It’s racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, culturally appropriative, murders cute animals to devour their bloody flesh, and (this is a new one) family-centric.

      Whether any of that is actually found in your story is, of course, not relevant.

      January 18, 2019
  9. It doesn’t take a ton of time to publish, and while your esteemed publishers (eh) are mostly caught on a procedural loop, you don’t need to be.
    Talk to Amanda and I. And I volunteer (he’ll kill me, but…) Younger son to typeset.

    January 18, 2019

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