Friday, October 18, 2013
THE UNSEEN: ORIGINS
Okay, so, I am just about finished with The Unseen's third draft. I say "just about" because I'm pretty sure I'll be tweaking The Unseen from now until forever. It has been a LONG three years (rounded), but I feel that it is now time to start shipping this baby out to third-parties/editors and get some feedback. That is what my instincts are communicating to me, and they are rarely ever wrong about anything--well, except that one time.
The Unseen is a psychological slasher that tells the story of a close-knit group of friends who discover that their vacation getaway--the luxurious Lake Sapphire--has more than a few skeletons in its closet, one of them being a reality-altering entity with an appetite for human souls. Inspired by classics such as The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Silent Hill, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Unseen is a melting pot of genres, combining horror, fantasy, drama, black comedy, and psychological elements.
Initially, the concept was written at the very start of 2010. The Unseen's first incarnation was a screenplay I had written for my screenwriting class. My instructor and classmates enjoyed it, but other people... did not. And boy, did those people let me know just how much they did not like it... or me!
Feeling discouraged, I chalked up The Unseen as a "learning experience" and moved right along with me life. I graduated college, left my student job, and from June 2010 to December of that year, I basically did... nothing. Well, that isn't true. I went to some nude beaches (and later, NYC for the first time), applied to dozens of jobs (which went nowhere), and took myself to see SAW: The Final Chapter. Oh, yeah, and I also spent four months (Aug - Nov 2010) mapping out the entirety of Eternal Blaze: Sword of Honor, which was/is the start of a High-Modern fantasy series inspired by an RPG Maker game I made in 2002, which in turn was inspired by role-playing I did with my toys as a youngster. Planning Eternal Blaze was loads of fun and made me feel really accomplished, especially coming after the train-wreck that was The Unseen's original incarnation (which I had the audacity to convert into a STAGE PLAY and submit to a local contest *face palm*). I was so excited to start writing the manuscript, but I was afraid. You see, I had never seriously tried to write a novel before. The closest was Forbidden, which was a) a LOST rip-off and b) only ever intended to be posted on Fictionpress.net.
I figured that if I wanted to have any chance at a writing a good and successful novel, I would probably have to read a few. So that's what I did. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was the first novel I read post-college. I loved it so much it inspired me to write. I didn't dare ruin Eternal Blaze by actually writing it, so instead, I started Project Connor. I don't even know what it was supposed to be about, but it was meant to be my "practice manuscript," where I'd re-teach myself, basically, how to write a story. Not just any story, either, but the story. Everything was going great. I was ripping through those books and chipping away at Project piece by piece. But on one December evening, as I lay down to sleep in preparation for a job interview the following morning, an idea nagged at me: an idea to transform that one screenplay, The Unseen, into a novel.
Whatever, I thought. Admittedly, I was intrigued by this idea, but I just sort of thought it would pass. I am an artist, after all, and ideas come and go. Hell, we artists can look at a tree and suddenly come up with a story idea. Some of these ideas stick and that's when we suspect we may have something special on our hands, so we drive ourselves bonkers trying to retain it in our brains until we can write it down. But most times, these ideas float away and generally aren't missed.
Well, this particular idea had anchored itself into my psyche and wasn't letting go without a fight. It was actually pissing me off. Here I was, desperately trying to sleep so that I wouldn't miss my interview, and the universe did everything it could screw me over. I tossed and turned until I fucking had enough, so I reached for my laptop (which, sadly, is dying a slow, agonizing death as we speak), turned the power on, and wrote the first page of the prologue to The Unseen.
I had such a blast writing that page, I couldn't believe it. The plan, then, was to write The Unseen alongside Project Connor, but I'm pretty sure I never looked at Project Connor again.
Naturally, I was totally late for my interview, but I didn't care all that much because I figured I would get another interview within a week or so.
I wouldn't get another interview for six months.
But that was all right, because for the first time since graduating college, I had a goal. A purpose. A reason. In other words, something to do. I was also collecting unemployment checks, which I am not proud of, but the way I saw it, I was merely receiving what I had given the government back when I had a job.
From January - Jun 2011, my schedule was as follows: wake up (5am), jog (6-7am), eat breakfast (8-9am), job search/browse the web/play games/watch Jerry Spring/waste time (or go grocery shopping) (9am-12pm) read (1pm-3pm), eat dinner (5pm), and write (6pm-10pm). Except I was never finished writing by 10pm. I would write well into the morning. Seriously, I would be writing when my parents came home from work, and I would still be writing when they left for work the next morning. No sleep in between. So then my schedule became something like this: wake up (3:30pm), jog (4-5pm), eat breakfast (5:30pm), eat dinner (6pm), read (7-9pm), and write (10pm - 8am).
By April, I had straightened this shit out because I started going to driving school, which ultimately amounted to nothing, for I still don't drive or have a license. Still, overall, things were looking up, even as my unemployment benefits were drying up. The Unseen was moving along at such a quick pace that I almost had a draft ready, and at the start of June, I had gotten a job.
My time with The Unseen was significantly reduced, but I made the most of it. I read on my way to work (a half-hour trip expanded into two hours, courtesy of Baltimore's public transmit), and I wrote on my way home from work. It was frustrating, but it ended up working out. First week of July, 2011, The Unseen's first draft was complete.
I couldn't fucking stand it. There was no plot, and thus, structural problems galore. Nothing the characters did made sense or had any purpose. The dialogue was stale, the prose overwritten. I couldn't believe I had spent all day and night writing... this.
I quit it. Chalked it up as another learning experience and sailed on. In August, I started working on my second novel attempt, Goblin, also based on a shitty screenplay I wrote in college. I wrote a prologue and loved it. Read the prologue at a workshop and other people loved it. I was overjoyed. This was the one!
It wasn't. I mean, it could be, I haven't forgotten about it and plan to start mapping it out this weekend, but I quit before finishing the first chapter. It just wasn't going anywhere. So, in January 2012, I started working on Man 1000, a sci-fi adventure based on yet another screenplay I wrote in college, which had been based on a comic book I drew in high school, which had been on a series of comic books I drew in elementary and middle school. I worked on that until hitting a block literally weeks later, and then putting the story on hiatus.
For about two seconds I felt lost and confused, until having some really cool ideas for The Unseen. So I jumped back into the draft with the intentions of fixing the entire first half so that the narrative flow was harder, faster, better, stronger. I shared the first couple of chapters with a group called Harbor Lite Writers to wonderful feedback (and some useful criticism), which made me feel all warm inside and that I was on the right back, baby.
But I became dissatisfied with the direction that The Unseen v2.0 was going, so I put it on hold and worked on novelizing Total Chaos in March 2012. I REALLY enjoyed writing Total Chaos and felt more confident in it than I ever did with any of the projects preceding it.
Near the end of April 2012, almost a full month after I had relocated from the tiny land of Baltimore, MD to the gargantuan beast that is New York City, I was hit with an onslaught of NEW and EXCITING ideas for The Unseen. My God, it was like having an epiphany! I was so anxious to resume working on The Unseen that I could hardly restrain myself. I quickly finished the chapter of TC I was working on and did just that.
I haven't looked back. It has been a long and "occasionally" frustrating journey, but here are. The Unseen has had three completed drafts so far, and I feel confident enough to show it to people again. I'm going to spend this weekend finding writers groups and editors because I'm ready to take this manuscript to the next level. Even if everyone hates it, I'll work on The Unseen however long is necessary until it is polished and professional.
Until next time...
- A Clyde
(PS: OMFG this is long! Is anyone even going to read all this??)