The Idea Graveyard Part Three

A non-exhaustive list of story ideas I’ve given up on:

  • The ten fanfic works in progress I mentioned in part two of this series that went on to have better lives as story challenges for other people.
  • The Worlds of Day and Night. This was to be a speculative novel in which society is divided into two main groups: diurnal people (who are awake during the day) and their nocturnal counterparts. I gave up on this for two reasons.
    • One: I didn’t have much of the story figured out beyond the actual concept as I’ve just explained it, and–
    • Two: I discovered that there is a book called Plus One by Elizabeth Fama that has done something very similar.
  • Matter. A story about a trans character and her lesbian girlfriend that I really want to read but am absolutely not the right person to write.
  • Sidekick. The story of a guy who has always been ‘friend-zoned’ and his long-suffering romantic interest who is trying to explain to him why he’s an entitled prick. A fairly thinly veiled feminist rant.
  • Tears at the Kitchen Sink. A really dark domestic thriller that I might resurrect one day but simply do not have the skills (or the emotional fortitude) to do justice to as of right now.
  • Woodwork. As above.
  • Fairytale Smashed. As above, but not so original.
  • Following the Wind. A concept novel set in a contemporary world the same as ours with one main difference: family means nothing. You’re born and whoever wants you, raises you, but – for the most part – you’re on your own.
  • Untitled. A vampire novel I hadn’t fully thought through and can now see is just full of overdone tropes.
  • The Widow’s Window. A horror novel that I’ve abandoned because I don’t actually like horror. Do not ask me where I got the idea from, because I have no idea!
  • Dark as Day. A short story about a man who is convinced the sun has stopped shining. (Yeah, it’s a little weird. Not sure where I was going with that.)
  • The Spirit that was Intended. About a ghost who’s also a groom. Not so much a story idea as a terrible pun.
  • The Spoon Thief. A children’s story based around spoon theory.

I’m aware this is a really weird mix. Some of these I’ve had in the back of my head for almost ten years. Needless to say, my brain can be a bit of an odd place.

The Idea Graveyard Part Two

I get a lot of story ideas. In the past, I’ve talked about how I deal with them all: metaphorically, by making them queue up and wait their turn, and practically via the use of lists and spreadsheets. But even with this mindset and those tools, it can still be a lot to manage. Sometimes – and it breaks my heart to say this – it is best to just let an idea go.

I was greedy for a long time, so obsessed with fears of ‘the one that got away’, that I tried to not give up on any idea. Ever. No matter how much it didn’t work. But that, as I’m sure you can guess, is unsustainable.

Once upon a time, I had a long list of maybe twenty or more blog posts I wanted to write, forty poems, and dozens of short stories. It stressed me out because, deep down, I know my output wasn’t big enough and that the backlog was only going to grow. Not only that, but all the blog posts, poems, and short stories were keeping me from the novels I wanted to write.

To save myself from the insanity, I’ve had to learn to prioritise even more; not just making the stories queue up and wait their turn, but actually turning some of them away. It’s been difficult, but my master list of works in progress is finally starting to look manageable.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not entirely where I want it to be, but substantial progress has definitely been made. This has taken literal years. I used to have three blogs instead of just this one. When I merged two of them and scrapped the other one entirely, that was a big step. As of right now, I have ideas for three future blog posts. Three is a number I’m comfortable with.

In place of my list of forty-plus poems I wanted to write, I easily have forty poems. The backlog on those is completely cleared to the point that if I get a poem idea, I can write it then and there without wondering to myself if I should finish a different one first. Continue reading

Of Life and Death

So, I just finished reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and it got me thinking. John’s books are great for that. In this recent one of his, my favourite parts were the beginning and the end – the way he introduced his thoughts and the character, and the way we said goodbye to both.

The main character, Aza, muses a lot about life and death, beginnings and endings (as well as a lot of other things!).

She thinks that happy endings aren’t really a thing – that they usually turn out to be, on closer inspection, either not that happy or not an actual ending. Aza also thinks that the only real ending there can ever be is death and/or extinction.

I have thoughts on both these points, but what I think is actually more interesting is the reply Aza’s best friend gives, saying it’s not really about all that, but about the frame with which we look at such things.

It reminded me of a quote by another well-loved Young Adult author, Rainbow Rowell. She’s asked pretty frequently about the ending of her book Eleanor and Park and why she left it open, and the official answer on her website is, “I don’t believe that 17-year-olds get happy endings. They get beginnings.”

I like that answer. There’s a lovely truth to it. But here’s the other side of that coin: it’s scary when it’s not true.

Let me unpack that for you:  Continue reading

What If…

alien writing promptWhat if our own brains weren’t, in fact, our brains? What if, several millennia ago, when the earth was still evolving, and we humans were not quite us humans, yet – what if aliens had visited us then, and planted themselves firmly inside our forming skulls? What if that was the reason we, apart from all other earth life, are sentient? What if that was why we were always so uncertain, so lost; always reaching for that elusive something that would give our lives meaning?

…if I had any talent as a sci-fi author, I would write a novel aiming to answer the questions above. But I’m not, and I’m not going to try. Thus, this is just another idea for the scrap folder, or inspiration for anyone who wants it. (Does anyone want it? Am I shouting out into the void? The alien’s at me again. Must go.)

New Ideas to Replace the Old

No sooner had I pitched out a boatload of ideas that were only weighing me down* did I get the brand new idea for a novel. But not just the general concept – several chapter outlines, a title, a log line, and a synopsis, too!

I know I’m trying hard not to start anything new, right now, but this story has really grabbed me, and I’m scared to miss the opportunity, so I’m going to run with it for a while.

With all of that in mind, I also had another idea for a story, and this second idea I am not chasing. I will put it down here just to get it out of my mind, however. As always, feel free to resurrect it and make it your own.

So, here’s the idea: what if there was an alien invasion of earth, but the aliens didn’t come for us? What if the aliens had, in fact, no interest in humans one way or another but had come with the intention of wiping out something else? This is the part of the story I haven’t got worked out. I don’t know what the ‘something else’ might be. Maybe mosquitoes, or cockroaches, or lint. Maybe tacos.

I want to see how that changes the standard tropes of us going to war with them (aliens, I mean, not tacos… though, maybe that could- no. No more plot bunnies!); the standard thing of always having our own race at the center of everything.

Someone write that story. I dare you!


*read about that here.

The Idea Graveyard – Part One

The Idea Graveyard - Part One (Blog Image)A long long time ago*, in a corner of the internet far far away**, I said that the new plan was to clear out some ideas for projects I know I’m never going to finish from the back of my mind, where they only serve as distractions from the real projects I should be focusing on. Well, I’ve been semi-successful in this, so far, but I want to clear out some more, and I’m going to do that right here, right now. Consider this post a kind of idea graveyard. And hey, if you like the sound of any of my abandoned ideas, then feel free to resurrect them, by all means. I’d love to hear from you if you’re inspired by anything below.

Ideas Currently Being Ditched:

  • A Doctor Who fanfic telling the story of what Rose and Faux!Ten got up to in their alternate timeline
  • A different Doctor Who fanfic in which the sonic screwdriver is a massive euphemism (gasp!)
  • A Christian Romance novel entitled If God Used Computers (…don’t ask. That really was a long time ago.)
  • Three separate Christian non-fiction books – one about dating, one about legalism/balance, and one about self care
  • A Christian children’s picture book
  • A book of religious poetry (is there a theme here or is it just me?)
  • A sci-fi short story that seemed original when it first occurred to me but is actually a trope that’s been done to death by writers a lot better than me
  • A fantasy short story that seemed really original to me, at the time (slightly different theme emerging over this way)
  • A book of animal/nature photography
  • A Buffy fanfic which is essentially a eulogy for a character no one remembers or cares about, from the perspective of a character I can’t stand

Phew. I thought that’d be hard, but it was actually a relief to put all those drafts in my scrap folder.

Onwards and upwards, pigeons!


*February 2015, to be exact
**This blog post right here

Experiments in Mixed Media

Today, I’m feeling inspired.

I love photography, and poetry, and art; and what I want to create is a pamphlet that not only includes all three, but mixes together all three, right there on the same page.

In the same space.

I want it to be art in and of itself. A collaboration of words and ideas, but not focusing on the words, too much.

Can someone tell me: Do such things already exist? Is there a name for what I’m after? Please, let me know.

Lulu Junior, but for Adults?

Comic Book Front CoverApparently it’s been around since February 2014, but I’ve only just heard about this thing called Lulu Jr.

Lulu.com (the parent company), for those who don’t already know, allows people to self publish using the print on demand model, meaning there’s very few overhead costs to releasing a book. As a big fan of this M.O., I’ve used Lulu to create the paperback versions of all of my books.

So now there’s this new thing – essentially Lulu for kids – and it sounds so cool! (No, I’m not getting paid to say this.) Lulu Jr’s book making kits come with everything needed for a child to draw out pages of a book, which they then send to Lulu via the included envelope, and then Lulu compiles the pages into a proper printed masterpiece and sends it back. I told you it sounded cool! WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS A KID?!

Ahem.

Don’t judge me, but I find this so awesome that I’m tempted to do it myself. Yes, the kid’s version and, no, I’m not joking.

As and adult that shamelessly reads children’s books, and enjoys a good spot of coloring in, this is right up my street. But here’s what I’m wondering: why isn’t there a Lulu Jr, but for adults?

Okay, okay, I can practically hear you rolling your eyes at the screen. There’s already the main Lulu service, I’ve already said that, I know. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a third option, in which adults who are not professional artists but who like to doodle as well as write can, not only self publish a book, but can illustrate one too.

In 2014 I made a comic for 24 Hour Comic day, and that resulting comic is available through Lulu’s main site. But let me tell you, it was not easy getting it there – I fought with my printer/scanner for three hours straight!

What I’m essentially saying here, in my perhaps not so humble opinion, is that Lulu is great, and Lulu Jr is a stroke of genius, but I want more. I want to be able to draw out pages to accompany my text, and then have Lulu put them into a book for me, no stress of misbehaving scanners whatsoever. Now, wouldn’t that be a nice Christmas gift?