Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Warehouse of Ideas

Fantastic -- I signed up, and the Nanowrimo site promptly went for most of this morning. It seems to be back up -- just in time to receive my first batch of greatness (I hope) tomorrow morning.

I do have an idea now, and a (very rough) outline -- the latter being my usual Achilles' heel. I've never been an outliner. The novel I've been working on sporadically this year is not outlined, and has suffered as a result.

This isn't the first time I've tried to write a novel. Not by a long shot. So, as much as thinking about some of them makes me wince, I present some of the previous unfinished novels that have run aground:

1) Horror novel, written when I was 15 or 16. I was inspired by Ramsey Campbell's example. Heavily indebted to Stephen King's "Christine," I wrote about a group of teenagers, one of whom becomes a werewolf (instead of becoming possessed by an evil car). No trace remains -- the only thing I really remember is a sex scene written in the inimitable style of someone who hadn't come close to having sex at that point.

2) Mystery novel, written during and after my senior year of college. Kept going to great lengths to make it quirky. One note: as much as not having an outline makes any novel difficult, that goes triple for a mystery novel.

3) 1999 in-transition novel. Written at a time when I'd quit my job in Colorado, was not sure where my life was going, and I was lovelorn, it was about a journalist who had quit his job in Colorado, was not sure where his life was going, and was lovelorn. Um. I think I gave my character black hair, though, so he wasn't me or anything. The character went up to Minnesota to housesit for a winter, and thus found himself. It was a whole bunch of long, serious conversations. A more humorless novel has never been written. I actually got further into this one than any other.

4) Wacky romantic comedy novel. Started when I realized how awfully humorless #3 was. Didn't get too far; elements ripped off Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" (except the characters liked HOCKEY rather than soccer).

5) Graham Greene-style well-meaning-whitey goes to third world and realizes he's in over his head. Inspired by the story of real-life combat photographers. Actually had some potential but never went anywhere.

6) Black comedy, set in Iceland (a place I've never been). Started because I came up with a GREAT opening scene that I was just dying to use; went nowhere. Started it on the plane back from Italy in 2004. Opening scene later appears, in greatly altered form, in #8.

7) Similar to #5, about a minesweeper out in the African desert who starts going insane. Inspired by a fascination with the desert's cruelty, and disappointment in the books I've read that seek to capture that ("The Woman in the Dunes" was ok, I can't get beyond page 50 of "The Sheltering Sky"). Again, some nice passages, but went nowhere.

8) The novel I started working on early this year, and have kept up intermittently. The first thing since #3 that I've allowed others to read, a big step. Some stuff I really like; I need to figure out where to take it, though (see repeated laments about outlining). I'll eschew plot points, just because I don't want to jinx myself.

9) The thing I'm going to start tomorrow. Again, no plot points for the moment, though that may change.

There've been a few others, but these are the things I've actually put some amount of serious thought into. We'll see how tomorrow's goes. I'm pretty excited about it right now, but that could change the moment writer's block sends me into Exley-style depression.

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