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16 July 2009 @ 09:19 am
all my old writing back from the dead  
So, back in the late 90s I was writing a novel, working pretty intensely on it, but I got derailed during a prolific period of messing around girls. I revisited it from time to time, mainly working on revisions, but mostly it just sat in the computer waiting for my hard drive to die, which it did sometime around 2001.

And the novel was gone. A lost relic that I didn't have the patience to re-create. A ghost that haunted subsequent novel attempts because my writing was better back in those days. Why was it better? I'm not sure. Maybe because I was in more pain. Maybe because I tortured myself into feeling bad when I didn't work hard enough on it. Maybe because of the acid I was taking that flipped open lots of locked doors in my mind and started making me see the beauty of visual details and little actions in a way I hadn't before. Maybe all of the above.

And I never expected to see it again. I tried writing another novel, but I got put off by all the giddy violence in the story, so I started writing my current novel, that was an antithesis of that one in terms of violence, but which borrowed heavily from themes and relationships I was playing with in the 90s novel. I didn't mind stealing a little from my old novel since no one was ever going to read it. Including me.

Of course, you know what happens next, but I didn't. While moving everything from our second floor down to the first floor this week (in preparation for our new floors), I found a stack of 3.25" disks. Being the cheap bastard that I was back then, they were the old Microsoft OS disks that I had erased and repurposed as backup for my files. So I brought them into work (where I have a machine that can read them) and took a look.

The lost novel was there. Only a few chapters of the radically-rewritten second draft unfortunately, but it looks like all of the files from the unfinished first draft. Also there were tons of stories and poems and plays that I'd written over the years, losses not as tragic as the novel, but still interesting for me to look at with a more mature eye (I was such an open wound as a young writer).

Finding the novel yesterday put me into a state of physical shock. I had chills, mild nausea, and felt like something was spinning around inside my skull. I got out of the office, took a walk, drank some tequila, and felt better. But now I'm in a huge connundrum.

Reading the chapters last night, I can see that the second draft of that novel is so much better than the first draft of my current one. I'm in love with the voice and the characters and bizarreness. The voice especially is something that's been challenging me with what I'm writing now. A huge part of me wants to just hit the pause on the current project, and see if I can still write the old one. But if I do will I ever come back to it? Part of me says that I need to finish the first draft of the current one before I start playing around somewhere else, but it's sooooooo tempting. And then there's the issue of the similarities between the two. Both follow musician boys fucking around at playing god (the old one playing in Christianity's sandbox, the new one in Hinduisms). Probably not a big enough deal to completely abandon either one, but I'll have to make some cuts to both of them to avoid some of the smaller details.

I'm feeling both very joyous and very angsty about all this, but I'll tell you, seeing my old writing again definitely makes me feel more like a writer again than I was feeling last week, and that confidence can't help but be a good thing.

 
 
Listening to: Beck - "Devil's Haircut"
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on July 16th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
Found The Shoegazer Gospels, did you?

"She desperately tried to recall if Jesus could, in fact, fly."

I still remember that (apparently)

--Scott
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: Luke Cheuh & Teresa MTZassmonkeydiary on July 16th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
That's the one!
(Anonymous) on July 16th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
amazing! god, I don't know if I could run across any of my old writing with that degree of pleasure. I mean, how you put it (I was such an open wound) hits a bit closer to home than I think I'd want to revisit.

I used to think of myself as a writer, but now I'm not so sure. Everything I write, I second-guess so relentlessly and harshly that I never, ever get anywhere. sigh.

but as far as what I would do in your situation, I dunno. get drunk and high and talk it over with a sympathetic sounding board? I wonder if you might end up going in an entirely new third direction, using elements of what you currently have.

cheers,

alex
(Anonymous) on July 16th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
I'm also recalling the LSD opened your doors of perception wide enough to allow an interesting description of a desk into your head. Dr. Hofmann would have been proud! Or baffled!

--Scott
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: ballerina escapeassmonkeydiary on July 16th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, the desk description is back! Although I'm not 100% it would make the cut in the second draft.
Ass McTavish and the land behind the Tavernorbasm on July 16th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
hit pause.

go back.

as a songwriter and lyricist, i can't fully let it go until i know i've done the best i can with that piece. i have my certain 'loves' that need my attention more than others. this one may be yours.

i say stop the presses and go do what inspires you.
Pallaspallasathene8 on July 16th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
While the Hinduisms appeal to me more than the Christianisms, I definitely liked that first bit of the first one. Flip a coin if you have to, but just keep working on one of them. You are definitely too good of a writer to not get yourself a book finished.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: kirsten ulve assmonkeydiary on July 16th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Yeah, I'll definitely be working on at least one of them...
davezeeke on July 16th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
I love you more today than I ever did in my LSD induced trials of love.

ROCK IT, Buddy!
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: joslin zoomassmonkeydiary on July 16th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I fully intend to make it rocked.
fridgemagnetfridgemagnet on July 16th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
This made me look back at the "Writing" folder in my Documents, and there's a page of a story I started writing in early 2003 which had a terrific idea that I'd forgotten about, about a secret group of people hunting magical gemstones and keeping them inside their bodies, making them sicker and sicker, so that the most successful collectors were crippled hobos, wandering around and trying not to die. I can't remember _why_ they were hunting them though.

Don't have anything before that. I don't really have _anything at all_ from before 2002; I trashed it all when moving to the US apart from one laptop, and then I spilled beer on the laptop.

In the future it's going to be hard to _avoid_ keeping this stuff. It's so easy to have things in Google Docs, or on Dropbox, or otherwise automatically backed up to some server somewhere that will outlive the sun. I reformatted my hard disc when drunk and annoyed the other week and I still have everything. It was kind of disappointing.
fridgemagnet: face glowing eyesfridgemagnet on July 16th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
that's pretty much me talking about myself isn't it?

anyway, get writing motherfucker
Diary of an Ass Monkey: comics: doom fistassmonkeydiary on July 17th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Frightening icon!!!
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: king kong voyeurassmonkeydiary on July 17th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
This made me look back at the "Writing" folder in my Documents, and there's a page of a story I started writing in early 2003 which had a terrific idea that I'd forgotten about, about a secret group of people hunting magical gemstones and keeping them inside their bodies, making them sicker and sicker, so that the most successful collectors were crippled hobos, wandering around and trying not to die. I can't remember _why_ they were hunting them though.

It's like Pokemon meets Madame Curie! I like it.

In the future it's going to be hard to _avoid_ keeping this stuff. It's so easy to have things in Google Docs, or on Dropbox, or otherwise automatically backed up to some server somewhere that will outlive the sun. I reformatted my hard disc when drunk and annoyed the other week and I still have everything. It was kind of disappointing.

Haha... yeah, but after this incident, I'm quite happy to risk being a virtual packrat.
Uniquely Marred: Way too tastefulbuddhamonkey on July 17th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
I always find that I like my most recent stuff minus one better than my current stuff -- maybe because I can look at it with a bit more perspective. Beware, as soon as you make the old stuff your current stuff, the effect may fade.

My advice is to focus on finishing something. But really, you have to write what you feel inspired to write.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: green grassassmonkeydiary on July 17th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC)
I always find that I like my most recent stuff minus one better than my current stuff -- maybe because I can look at it with a bit more perspective. Beware, as soon as you make the old stuff your current stuff, the effect may fade.

Yeah, I think there's a lot of truth to that. But I also feel like there really is just something extra special about this one book.

My advice is to focus on finishing something. But really, you have to write what you feel inspired to write.

Yeah, I haven't mentioned the dozen other aborted novels I found. I really need to complete something and fast.
lilyvalleylilyvalley on July 18th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
Well I vote for going back to the Christian one because what I read was FUCKING AWESOME, MOTHERFUCKER!

Really. Much better than any of the novels I've read in months.

Please to send me the second chapter?
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: monkey blockassmonkeydiary on July 18th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Will do! And thanks!