The same day that I posted my last update, I also collected all of the online work I’ve done over the years related to the world of my aspiring novel. There wasn’t as much of it as I expected; I think that some of my work was kept on eventually unreadable discs that I discarded and forgot (I used to use a lot of floppy disks that just gave up over the years). I gathered what I could find, though, and made a mental note to check stored CD-R discs as well.
Last night, I went through my big folder of paper notes and drafts. These actually are comprehensive, beginning with handwritten scrawls of dialogue from my teenage self and including a significant pile of printed pages from the initial conception of my story as a screenplay rather than a novel.
Re-reading my work from about thirteen years ago, when I began developing the story in a math class, is often hilarious. My early understanding of how to tell a story came not from the many books I read and loved, but from the endless hours of television I watched. In what I hope was a sincere form of flattery, I gave verbatim lines from my favorite television moments to my own characters. I also demonstrated an immature understanding of character archetypes and high school politics, which I don’t hold against past-me, since I had genuinely yet to mature at that point.
However, I must say that in spite of my dialogue theft, cliched characters, and underdeveloped plots, there is genuine potential strewn throughout my scattered ideas. Some of my banter is clever and wholly my own, some of my relationships still make me smile and most of my brief attempts to write until plot problems solved themselves weren’t bad, exactly–just incomplete.
Most of my early ideas got revised out of existence, or talked through until it was clear that they made no sense. I won’t be able to use a lot of the notes I’ve gathered. But as intimidating as it feels to actually write a story that I’ve been thinking about for far too long, it also feels possible now. It may be rough, strewn with plot holes, and a bit retro in today’s apocalypse-fiction climate, but it could really be something. It could maybe even be good.