I love Stephen King so I stole one of the titles from one of his non-fiction books for this post. He’s my favourite author and The Dark Tower series of books are the best fantasy/sci-fi/western/mindfuck books you will ever read. Seriously if you have not read King’s opus then you really should. The first book in the series is called The Gunslinger, go get it now! The book I stole the title for this post from is a work discussing the craft of writing. It’s also the closest thing you’ll ever get to a Stephen King autobiography and is very interesting, so you should read it. Anyway moving on, this is a post about writing.
I am not a writer. I used to enjoy writing stories and making stupid comics when I was very young but as soon as I got access to computers any creative part of me died and I became a computer nerd instead. Also, whilst I have a decent command of the English language I am rather ignorant of the proper ‘rules’ you are supposed to follow when writing a novel. I’m not an idiot, I understand the rules of grammar mostly, but I’ve always felt like I didn’t know enough about the syntax of language to make a worthwhile story that would captivate readers. So it’s with some embarrassment that I sometimes tell people that I’ve been trying to write a novel for some time now.
I’ve had a story in my head for quite some time. It’s got the basic elements realised i.e. I know what the main plot line is and where it takes place, as well as the overall theme. However it’s languishing in a notepad file and I haven’t really thought about it for some time until recently.
It’s a semi-autobiographical horror story, set in a somewhat fictionalised version of the town in which I currently reside. I have had the idea for a while but only started actually putting pen to paper back in November when a friend and I both took part in National Novel Writing Month. For those who aren’t aware NaNoWriMo runs every year, and is supposed to encourage budding writers to produce a novel (well more like a novella, 50,000 words) inside of one month by setting daily targets. I started out pretty well but gave up around the 12,000 word mark.
See the thing is, I hate targets. Having a daily word target shoved in my face every time I logged in to my NaNoWriMo dashboard really pissed me off. I gave up partly because meeting targets when doing something for pleasure or because you want to is completely counter intuitive in my opinion and partly because depression sucks your ambition out your ass through a straw. But lately I’ve been thinking about my book and thinking that I want to get back to it. I keep having ideas that I think would work well with the story and my therapist has set me tasks as part of my cognitive behavioural therapy, tasks that involve thinking about the novel.
I might decide to put what I have so far up on here so other people can read it and pass judgement. Like I said I’m not a writer and my writing style is unconventional and probably leaves a lot to be desired (my wife HATES it) so nobody should expect anything great. My biggest gripe is that I just don’t think I am good enough to produce anything of worth. Being a non-creative person who doesn’t really understand ‘how to write’ is constantly playing on my mind.
Conversely though I sometimes think, “So fucking what?”. There are plenty of examples from history where unconventional writers have gained mainstream success. The Beat Generation in the 50’s spawned some fantastic authors who definitely wouldn’t have their books on sale at airport kiosks. Try reading The Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs to get an idea of what I mean, the non-chronological structure and obvious drug induced ramblings make it a difficult but worthwhile book to get through. I’m not comparing myself to Burroughs at all, but it gives me hope that there is a place in the world for those who don’t just write cookie cutter style stories that obey strict and rigid grammatical rules. That’s why I like King so much, because he plays with language (seemingly effortlessly) and breaks ‘rules’ all the time.
So tonight I’m going to try and write a few chapters. I’ll have to read through what I’ve got so far to refresh my memory, in the process I MAY upload it here, who knows.