First off, happy New Year to you all, I hope each and everyone of you had an amazing festive season and are ready for a happy, healthy and productive New Year!
As I start my first full year as a self-professed writer, I’ve been thinking a lot about my plans for 2018, my hopes, aspirations and ideas. It’s always an exciting and daunting time when you start out in a new job, never more so than when it’s one on your own. You’re surrounded by questions which you’re simply not equipped to deal with.
When will I finish my first novel?
Can I even do it?
How long will editing take?
When will I know that a draft is done?
Will it be of interest to anyone else?
All pretty important questions and ones which, for now, I genuinely have no answer. As I hope to make this adventure into something which, in time, I can do full-time, these questions are especially pointy. Am I, after all, wasting my time? Destined to litter the world with half-finished manuscripts and ideas? Stories unfinished and untold? Main characters lost in their worlds, trapped, never to complete their journey?
I hope this year to answer these questions for myself, for my loved ones and, well, for you too. If you’re here we shall both assume that you have some interest in what I have rattling around in my brain, right? Otherwise, this is all a little weird. Right?
This leads me nicely onto my plans for 2018. What do I want from the next twelve short months? Well, here are my current plans… ready?
(I am glad one of us is!)
- Complete Relative Horizon’s first draft and editing, to get to a completed manuscript by summer 2018
- Complete a set of short stories; I have two in the works, another four planned, including three in the Relative Horizon universe
- Increase the rate of blogs for this site to one per week as a minimum
- Begin writing regularly, freelance, for other sites too
- Complete the first draft and editing for the novel which appeared in my world over Christmas by the years’ end (more below)
- Begin work on the second book in the Earth Reforged series
- Decide if I am actually going to do anything with the dystopian story idea I’ve been chewing on for over two months…
All infinitely achievable, I think? I think so too. In fact, I hope that these may prove to be modest in hindsight. I guess we’ll all find out come December, huh? How exciting.
I also felt the need to put my thoughts on the creative process out there for the world and a little sneak peak of something I am working on.
With Relative Horizon, I can’t tell you when the seed of the idea began. It’s been with me sometime, fermenting between my ears, sprouting new ideas and gathering information as it went. Characters appeared, grew and disappeared with the whims of thought. So, when the time came to write it, the world was very much fully formed, and I knew many of the characters well, even if they all lacked names and often even genders. This latter leading to an awkward, mid-scene realization that one of my characters was, in fact, female, when she had been a male up until that point. Relative Horizon was, and remains, a process of archaeology, uncovering that which I know, but have forgotten and so need reminding of. It’s a singular and odd experience. Conversations between characters sliding from my mind to fingers to screen as if I am dictating the conversation I hear around me.
By contrast we have the new novel. At the moment, it’s working title is “The Walls of Tartarus”, pretty grand, huh? I am not sure that will make the cut, but it’s as good of a working title as any, so for now it stays.
Tartarus came into being on a Dutch motorway on the 27th of December 2017. It was around 10 am. Specific, isn’t it? I had had a song stuck in my head for days, some joyous, festive ditty that I could not shake. The song was annoying on the first day, by the third I was ready to murder. Thankfully, I had a CD in my car that morning of a favourite band and figured a few seconds would clear the ear worm from my mind. Knowing that the CD in question, by a band called Spinnerrette, was not to my partners liking, I listened only to a few seconds, enough to clear my mind out.
But, as I turned the track off a snatch of lyric jumped out at me:
“Up rose the devil to walk within us all
A prescription for mankind?
The devils dance with God!”
For some reason, that line generated an idea, a sniff of narrative. A few miles down the road, the flames of an idea burned bright. By the end of the day, the first thousand words were written, the outline taking shape. But research was needed. I needed books. So, books were found. Are being read. A narrative, one unlike anything I thought to write, is taking shape and blazing its own life. A very different story. A very different idea with a life of its own.
If Relative Horizon is documenting events of an old friend, Tartarus is like riding a roller-coaster. Drunk. With a blindfold on. In a hurricane. Quite invigorating really.
What will Tartarus be, though? It is a fantasy novel, set in our world, now, today. But with certain some… changes. Maybe I should let the main character of the book introduce himself a little, what do you think? This is an excerpt of a… note which will likely appear at the start of Tartarus, let me know what you think in the comments below and, if you write yourself, what sources of inspiration have you had? Are you a planner from a seed or do your books explode, fully formed into your mind over your morning toast?
(I’d also suggest this song for you to listen to whilst you read it, it’s one of his favorites. This guy has a sense of style, all of his own…)
“I’ve died a thousand times and, with luck, I’ll die a thousand more before the end. Before time comes and all is at an end. Before that thing which so many want. Lust for, even. The return of the King. When all wrongs shall be righted. All questions answered. All loved ones returned.
Or… not. Though I appreciate the optimism. I really do. For years I’ve seen it grow and flourish, seen it spread like some kind of mental disease. The human ability to ignore the inconvenient truth in favor of a comfortable bedtime story, no matter how twisted. It’s really a delight. It is. It’s like watching a child at play, the lack of real understanding. No depth of comprehension. No realization that it’s not a toy you tinker with. It’s a bear trap and someday, oh someday it’ll snap shut and then it’ll be time to play find the fingers. Arm. Probably head. And what fun we all have waiting for the snicker snap of the trap triggered. How he’ll laugh. What mirth. What wit. What sport.
Any responsible parent would take the trap from you all, make you realise the truth of your beliefs. Of course, a responsible parent wouldn’t have made the bear trap, let alone given it to you and nor tell you that you’re bad if you don’t play with it. They certainly wouldn’t make you force all of your friends to play with it as well.
Any responsible parent.
But who am I? As ever, little person, you ask the wrong question. Not who.
Maybe even why, why will matter more than who by the end.
You have no idea.
You really don’t.
Does that annoy you? The not knowing? Did you learn nothing from eating the fruit of the tree? Knowledge is not advised. It was certainly our undoing. But at this point? It won’t be yours, will it. No. So trusting, the lamb. Even as the blades are drawn. Drawn and sharpened.
And still the question turns, who am I? I could be cryptic. I could tell you that I have many names, and I do. Going through a thousand lives with a single name would be so… dull, wouldn’t it? Believe me, you need a change after the first few hundred years. Who I am will come.
What I am, however, that I will entrust you with. For it’s a secret you see. A secret for now. But not for all time.
Because, you see, what I am…