I’ve been looking at making a project of re-reading the books I wrote in high school as part of my recent self-reflection/improvement-focused summer metaprogramming session. Looking through some of my other writing from that time is painful, so… yipes, here we go, ego, hope you’re ready.
However, I’d still like to do something with that story someday. It started life as A Boy In Inland when I was in junior high. (Actually you could argue it started its life as The Last Elf when I was probably around the fifth grade, or maybe in the preteen rewrite of that tale… but let’s not go there.) I still have the whole hand-written binder, a.k.a. “book”… somewhere. And it was the basis for The Herald, written on a 286 sometime mid-high school career, as well as its similarly dot-matrix sequel Tale of the Songbird and the barely-begun third book, Ripples in the Pool, as well as the reams of notes I had on the series.
That in turn led to the never-completed third version of the book, also called The Herald, that I was plugging away at my first two years of college with the intention of finally crafting the story into something I could sell to a publisher. This book died beneath the weight of my first adulthood major depressive period and lay aborted and forgotten for years. After that, I figured Enlinde was out of my blood.
But I don’t think it ever will be, not until I’ve used it somehow. It was with me too much and for too long as a writer to let go. And even if I’m not intending to be a fantasy author, I have to at least belt one out in my (not yet really begun) career. So why not this one? I made a stab at rewriting the book again in 2007, and though I didn’t get too far, I did give myself a nifty mission statement:
I got to thinking about this when I was a little older and wondered why the “shit happens” rule didn’t show up so much in fantasy. Things in most fantasy really are a little too ordered, aren’t they? And I get it, that’s why it’s fantasy. Still makes you wonder.
Then there was this place called Enlinde, and I grew up with it too. Or it grew up with me. I started writing about James, Lena and Rodney when I was in junior high. The characters, story and world all grew exponentially as I worked on them through high school (as did the number of manuscripts), but were mostly abandoned for years afterward.
But my heart still turns to Enlinde once in a while, and when I look at it, I think about not just the story’s evolution but the evolution of the structure of the story. It’s helped me understand a lot about how fantasy novels are written. I’m having fun giggling at the cliches. Oh, I had huge plans for it: five epic novels, with the prophecized heroes finally overcoming blah de bleh.
Screw that. One novel (if a little thick). Cut out all the boring timefillers they usually throw into fantasy books to pad them into series, treat the characters like real people and let the “shit happens” rule be free to do its thing. Just with, you know, magic and stuff. Let’s start with the standard fantasy beginning and see how it turns out in something closer to the real world. And oh hey, here’s a half-finished fantasy story from what feels like two and a half lifetimes ago to work with.
I already know what happens. I still want to see it happen. Seeing the story happen is as entertaining as the story itself. Especially when it all goes horribly wrong.
So who knows? I might end up tossing up a bit of The Pool and the Void in my continuing mission/strategy of “throw shit at the internet and see what sticks.”