July 16th, 2009

amd: typing monkey

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.