Thursday, August 18, 2011


Here's the scoop. I'm 22,000 words into a novel that seems to be going nowhere. I've just finished an MFA program where I churned out two novels that I'm currently peppering agents with. No leads as of yet. I've got an idea I can't shake from my mind, but it's nothing like anything I've ever written. I am most certainly at a crossroads. Not a Britney Spears "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" kind of crossroads either.

I took a little break from the aforementioned train wreck novel, a project that's even boring me to write, so I'm sure readers wouldn't be able to stand it, and wrote a couple flash pieces and some prose poetry. When I went back to it, hoping some time away and a fresh outlook would help me ressurect it. No dice. It seems worse now than ever. As bad as, say, Britney Spears acting in a movie about a girl that's not a girl but not yet a woman.

I think I'm going to kill it. It's about a murderer, so that would be fitting. What does that leave. School is about to start, so time to write will be limited. Do I take a break from larger projects, maybe do some reading for inspiration, write some more stories and poems, and let the new ideas simmer to make sure they are up to my standards before setting off to write a time-wasting 22,000-word steaming pile of crap? Like, you know...Britney and all that.

The big idea, the one I've been waiting for, the one that I can't stop thinking about, happens to be a dark, cyber-punk, epic adventure novel--something I've never even thought about attempting. I blame The Marbury Lens, along with various metal lyrics, for drumming this bad boy up. Can I write something like this? What qualifies me? And to complicate things, the new idea will only work in third person, I think, and I've only done novels in first person. I'm not sure I can be omniscient. It sounds so daunting.

My first instinct is to read. There are the Collins books--The Hunger Games and the like--that could be a good starting point. But do I want to risk replicating instead of innovating? And what if I'm just getting swept up in the distopian novel hullabaloo and only think this is my greatest idea ever? What if I'm subconsciously just trying to capture the lightening in the bottle that distopian YA has created and by the time I write it, the whole genre is passe. Like ex-Mouskateers making it big as pop singers.

But I'm pretty sure this is the story I want to tell, not because it's in, but because I'm obsessed with the idea. It's more of a classic throwback to things like Conan the Barbarian, The Lord of the Rings, and even some Star Wars. My future isn't about technology; it's about retreating into superstition and post-apocalyptic self-preservation. A little Mad-Maxy maybe with a tinge of fifteenth century Eastern European blood bath? It's hard to describe. All with a boy from modern times as the protagonist stuck in this future world of despair. And he gets there without time travel--how cool is that?

So, part of me wants to mull this over more, read a bit in the genre, try some things out in flash fiction and poetic forms, especially with third person narration, and attack this next summer when the idea is fully encrusted in my artistic sensibility and I have time to devote to it full time. But part of me wants to strike while the iron is hot. Let my vision and imagination just run wild and guide me. Capture the primitive violence of this experiment in the primitive and violent pages of this novel. Could it even be a series? A movie?

My mind is getting a cramp just thinking about it. If you have any advice or thoughts on the subject, please share. If you have any suggested reading based on what I've just shared concerning this project, please share. If you have anything at all for me, please share. Thanks!

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