Shooting For The Stars – And Hitting The Sofa

I was going to do an update on the book. Then someone asked me to write another short story. So I’ve tried to do both at the same time. 

Special thanks to my sister’s dog – for stealing my chair long enough to make a great picture.



 

Why, exactly, am I doing this?

I’m sat here, staring at a stack of pages. Waiting for lightning to strike. Some kind of bolt of inspiration out of the blue that’s going to help me make this vague, rambling story make sense.

150 pages into editing the manuscript, and I think I’ve written up nearly half of that again in notes. Things that have gone wrong, need tweaking or just need removing. Already “present day” parts I wrote two years ago seem horribly outdated.

Another 150 pages to go.

I’m not doing this for the money. Nobody ever wrote anything for the money, as far as I know.

Besides, who’s going to read this crap anyway?

I wonder about all the things I could have done in the time I’ve wasted on this. I could be great at guitar. I could have learned a language. I could have learned lots of things.

Right now, I could just be on Resident Evil. Why aren’t I? The console’s just there. In arm’s reach.

Nothing would make me feel better than shooting things in the face. Or I could do a Spaced and drown Lara Croft. Again.

Hmm… Another pop culture reference. I don’t even think I do it deliberately anymore. It’s habitual. The manuscript’s rife with them too. Ones I didn’t even notice when I wrote them the first time.

Maybe I could have used all this time coming up with some original ideas of my own. If 150 pages of slog has taught me anything, it’s that they’re thin on the ground in my writing.

So why am I doing this?

It’s not my job. But I’d like it to be. Maybe this is my internship.

Who am I trying to impress?

I spot another typo on the page in front of me. Typical. I’ve worked places before now where I couldn’t even string a simple sentence together without a typo turning up. It got to the stage where we started calling them “tyops”. It was a running joke.

Multiply that up by the thousands of words that have been spewed out here, and… well… you get the idea.

So why am I whiling away my life bashing keys and getting frustrated with my (in)ability to tell this story properly?

I cross out another paragraph in red pen.

Another self-indulgent ramble that does nothing to help the story beyond add to the word count. Clearly I wrote it when I was still trying to work the story out myself. Lesson learned; next time, have a plot in mind from the off. Don’t invent it as you go then waste hours trying to chisel it into something coherent.

And all this rubbish about “being the first person to another world”. OTT. Romantic. Crap.

You know it’s time to have a break when even the dog looks at you, then the pages, then back at you with a look that says “come on, man…”.

I step back. I have a break. I’m going in circles and barely concentrating anyway.

Within seconds of flopping onto the sofa, the magazine I’m reading says the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon carried the “first people to visit another world”.

What?

No! Fuck.

It’s the Moon! Does it count as a world? Fuck! No wonder my blurb for an earlier draft made me sound like an idiotic, daydreaming teenager who hasn’t seen daylight in months and – crucially – hasn’t done any research.

I fight to not fling the magazine across the room. The dog thinks I’m going nuts. Maybe I am.

Fuck.

I bet they’d have never got to the Moon if they were making it up as they went.

They’d have had a plan. Something to aim at from the start beyond ‘finishing’. Lesson learned.

X many drafts in, and something still isn’t right with my story. I’m still just trying to ‘finish’ it.

So much for having a break. I sigh. I should be working on this thing.

I bet NASA wouldn’t have slacked off and had breaks in ‘69 either. Besides, it’s hard to make tea on your way to the Moon. They’d have —

— The Sixties.

This story would make much more sense if it starts in the sixties.

Real events would put everything in the ideal place to start the story. The Cold War… The Space Race… UFOs… paranoia…

The ‘alien technology’ could be what we have now.

And my main character wouldn’t have a need for (or a hipsterish appreciation of) ‘old school’ tech. It would just be what he has access to. Which is a bonus, because I hate that part of the story now. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So I research and check facts, a flurry of activity.

Mere hours later, I have a list of dates and a multitude of dots have been joined in the story.

There’s a hell of a lot of work still to do, but somehow, there’s a glimmer of hope. It starts to feel like I might make this story make sense yet.

But I won’t know for sure unless I write it.

And I’d hate never seeing if it could have worked. It’d drive me mad.

I get back to work.

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