Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writing In My Head

Despite all resolutions to the contrary, I seem to have let my blog slip for a few weeks again. Ah, well, the best-laid plans and that which paves the road to Hell, et cetera...

The thing is, I haven't been feeling quite up to writing. The NaNoWriMo really took it out of me, and then I've been experiencing a depression that I am not sure is seasonal or cold-induced or what but has been sapping my energy bigtime; and then I've been pretty busy at work, and I have been putting a lot of energy into another writing-project idea; so, you put all those things together and you get a very non-blogging Robert.

This other writing project is actually two writing projects, which were inspired by the rush of satisfaction I felt after finishing The Math Teacher is Dead; I've never actually finished a story before, and the thrill was pretty amazing. And as with all pleasurable sensations, I wanted more, and I wanted it NOW.

But I didn't want to write another Danny Vandervere story, for though I have lots more storylines for him, I'm kind of sick of him right now... I wanted to try something different; I started thinking about what else I'd like to write, if I wanted to write pure erotica or some other genre like adventure or fantasy or romance.

Due to some influences from online novels I've been reading lately, I suddenly decided to write a supernatural romance. But what kind? Vampires are kind of overdone right now, and I wasn't sure I could create a more compelling vampire than the characters I've already read from other authors. So what about ghosts? Well ghosts, being incorporeal, aren't very sexy as a rule. Zombies? Werewolves? Wizards? No, no, no: gross, boring, as overdone as vampires, in that order.

So I put the question to Caroline, and she gave me a really good idea for a ghost story... or rather, she suggested some unpleasantly scary things and some things that she found compelling but didn't interest me as plot devices; and as we talked it over, some other stories I've read came back to me, and some ideas were born from the confluence of Caroline's ideas and the romantic ghost-stories I've read before.

My idea is about a young man living in an old house that his parents are renovating; they do this for a living, moving into an old wreck of a house and renovating it and reselling it, so the young man has had a life of moving around and social and emotional disconnect. The house is older and larger and more elaborate than any house they've been in before, and it is of course haunted by several ghosts; one of the ghosts is a young man who'd been murdered by his father a hundred years earlier, who starts visiting the protagonist in dreams and later becomes visible to him awake... and it goes on from there.

The point of the story will be multifold: there will be stuff about coming out and coming of age, but also about family dynamics, questions of immortality at a price and the intrinsic value of mortal life, and a lot of architectural porn... after all, the first thing I did when I thought of this story was to design the mansion in which it would take place.

Another idea for a story came to me as I toyed with the above: I was thinking about vampires and the different kinds of vampires there are in literature, and I came up with a different form of creature than any I've read so far: not a mere bloodsucker, but a predator of the human race who has developed language and abstract thought as a hunting tool but who is still essentially an animal, amoral and simply not human, who never was human and has only experienced humanity the way domestic pets experience it... as an adaptation rather than as a natural imperative.

This predator meets a boy who is perfect prey... the sort of boy who attracts predatory humans, who is always a victim because he naturally appeals to essentially bad people. And since the predator is not human, he doesn't see the boy as prey, but rather as the perfect bait for "big game." And they become quite attached to each other, for various reasons that I'll go into when I write.

I got the idea for this pairing thinking about one of the few poems in the world that I like, William Blake's "The Tyger"... which I once had to memorize for a college public speaking course, chosen because of its use in Anne Rice's The Tale of the Body Thief (my favorite of her novels). That poem is frequently paired with another poem of Blake's, "The Lamb," which I don't like very much but, when paired with "The Tyger," it makes for an interesting image... "The Lamb" is overtly Christian and rather syrupy, but the punchline of "The Tyger" (which has an amazing and I think rather sexual rhythm) is "did He who made the Lamb make thee?" I really liked the concept of a natural (rather than supernatural) predator, something of the earth, God-made and/or an evolutionary adaptation of a canine or feline instead of a primate.

Anyway, I can't even imagine a full plot for this story, so I'm thinking of making it a series of short erotic stories instead of a novel. But the point of the story, aside from sex and gore, is going to be the nature of humanity itself, what it means to be human, especially in terms of good and evil... about which I think I may have a few things to say.

Of course, this is all still in the cogitation stage, I haven't got any words down yet, no outlines nor even names and characterizations mapped out. I have floor plans and elevations for the haunted mansion, though! They're still in sketch form, but I just got a new design program that I'm going to try and use to make proper CAD models.

So that's kind of what's going on with me right now. There's probably more, I could talk about Christmas and how great it was with Suzie and Matthew doing almost all the work, and then there is my recent outing as emcee for my company's staff party (though I'll post pix anyway), but I just ain't up to it. Hopefully I'll be back to speed soon.

The costume was one of my more harebrained ideas, which started with not being able to fit into my dinner suit and not being able to find my black dress shoes and culminated in me going out at lunchtime and buying a top-hat; but everyone enjoyed it, so I guess my dignity can take the hit. And the caricature (we had caricaturists at the party, which was a huge success, consider hiring some for your next event) is rather unflattering but somehow catches my expression oddly well.

And finally, to cleanse your palate after that silliness, I offer the following as a sweet and tangy sorbet: