There’s a scene near the beginning of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring where Sam stops at the edge of the Shire and says, “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest from home I’ve ever been.”
Today, I know how he feels.
I abandoned my last novel, The Broken Prince, at just under 60,000 words. Once I pass that point on Coven Hill, it will be the farthest from the beginning of a novel that I’ve ever been. I think that’s kind of cool. And another sign that I’m inching ever closer to the end of the first draft.
Earlier this month I pledged to finally make headway on one of my two would-be novels or my perpetually-in-development adventure game. The time has come to choose. And the choice is… The Witches of Coven Hill, a young-adult fantasy novel set in the fictional town of Coven, Massachusetts.
I came up with the basic premise for it way back in October of 2006 when I was working on another novel for NaNoWriMo. The idea has kind of gnawed at my subsconscious ever since.
So why Coven Hill? Well for one thing, it’s the most doable. The story has a definitive beginning, middle, and ending. (Though I’m still pretty fuzzy on all the in-between parts.) Still, I know who most of the major players are. I like the main characters, a lot. And it’s the shortest of the three projects. All told it’ll probably come in at 250-300 pages. That’s totally doable.
I also feel as if I have a better handle on the “voice” for this one, because it’s a bit lighter, younger, more casual than my other writing project, The Broken Prince, which is more of an adult fantasy in the tradition of George R.R. Martin and, to a lesser degree, Tad Williams.
You see, I get overwhelmed just thinking about the size of that story, and I’ve already scrapped two halfway-complete drafts because they weren’t good enough for me and I cared about “getting it right” so damn much that it was paralyzing. So that’s a project for later. When I have more time. And I’m a better writer. Eventually. Maybe.
As for Rise of the Hidden Sun, my adventure game, I really want to deliver the thing I promised myself when I started it back in 2003, which is to say I want it to be the very best freeware adventure ever made. Over the past month or so I’ve played around with scaling back the graphics and story so I could do it completely on my own, but in the end I’m just not comfortable with the comprises I’d have to make to do that. Nor with the amount of time I’d have to spend leaning over my laptop pushing pixels.
So for now I’m getting ready to plunge headlong into the world of young adult fantasy fiction. And I’m going in armed with the goal not of writing The Great American Novel, or a Good American Novel, or even a Serviceable American Novel. Nope, my goal is just to finish a draft and see what comes out.
Don’t delete anything. Write the damn novel and then edit it. Easier said than done for a chronic self editor like me, but there you go. The old way clearly hasn’t worked. Time to embrace the chaotic beauty of crappy first drafts.
Am I right, Eric?
Rather than doing the usual New Year’s resolutions thing I thought I’d start 2008 off with a list of things I’m excited about seeing or doing in the year ahead. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.
So, in no particular order:
1. Ethan’s first birthday. In just a few short months my little boy will be a year old. Holy crap. I know it’s a cliche to say I can’t believe how quickly time flies, but seriously—I can’t believe how quickly time flies!
2. The New England Patriots Invitational Tournament. Also known as the NFL Playoffs, this is where the Patriots invite three vastly inferior teams to be their personal punching bags en route to capturing yet another Lombardi Trophy and, oh yeah, a perfect season. Bring it on!
3. Getting healthy. That means working like hell on my physical therapy and doing the other things—eating well, exercizing every day, and just generally taking better care of myself—that are actually in my control. Hopefully my body will respond after being put through the ringer this past year and a half.
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Obviously.
5. Easter Island. Health permitting, I’ll be traveling to Easter Island this March for my first foray into freelance travel writing since 2005′s cover story on Skellig Michael for the Boston Sunday Globe. Pretty exciting.
6. Spider-Man: Brand New Day. The Spidey comics go from monthly to three times a month starting next Wednesday. Thanks to the new status quo, this is as excited as I’ve been for a comic book in a long time.
7. Creating… something. Is this the year I finally make headway on either Rise of the Hidden Sun or one of my two major writing projects? I dunno, but I plan to pick one and run with it.
8. New TV shows. Even though the writers’ strike is still full-speed-ahead, there are two new shows I’m really looking forward to in ’08: Jericho (returning from the dead for seven all-new episodes!) and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (which, admittedly, has the potential to suck, but hope springs eternal).
9. The Red Sox in Japan. Yes, I think it’s stupid that the Sox are opening their title defense in frickin’ Asia of all places, but I do still think it’ll be kinda cool to see them play in Tokyo—if only to see what Don and Jerry have to say about it.
10. Climbing a mountain. I don’t care which mountain. I just want to get out there and hike again. Which brings me back to # 3: MUST. GET. HEALTHY!
What, you’ve heard that one before? Okay, it’s true. I’m not Luke Skywalker. I’m not here to rescue you. And while we’re at it, I’m probably a little short for a stormtrooper, too. Sorry.
I am here to blog, though. So what if I’m five years late to the party? So what if I’ve kicked it off with an out-of-left-field Star Wars reference that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The important thing is that I’ve finally gotten around to doing a blog, and I’ll be using this space to write about the creative frustrations rewards of…
- Writing a great (or even pretty good—or, heck, I’d probably settle for thoroughly mediocre at this point) scifi/fantasy novel. There’s a 99.9 percent chance I’ll post bits and pieces of my writing here, too. Please be gentle.
- Designing a point ‘n’ click computer game, Rise of the Hidden Sun, which has been “in production” for years and years and years. (And years.) I’m still working on it, really!
- Raising a child. Trust me, it’s a creative process all its own. And since I’ve just recently become a dad (Hi Ethan!), I’m sure that part of my life will find its way into this blog more often than not. But no stories about baby poo, I promise.
What else…? I’ll probably end up talking about sports, and TV, and movies, and music, and books, and politics, and all sorts of other pop culture things as well. And I bet I’ll find a lot of things to complain about, too. Can’t help it. It’s who I am.
Lastly… The story behind Chapter 11 Studios. Here’s the quick version: I would go absolutely broke chasing after all my creative pursuits, and the term “Chapter 11″ refers to the bankruptcy code here in the U.S. It also sounds kinda literary, right? So: No Money + Lots of Creativity = Chapter 11 Studios. Mystery solved.
And that, friends, is my blog in a nutshell. Hope you’ll join me.