One day, as I moved into a new position at work requiring a lot of air travel, I found myself with tons of extra idle time. Creativity bottled up inside exploded into an outpouring of ideas, so I began writing a novel. I had tons of time on airplanes and in hotels to spare and I found that I had enough penned up creativity to fill a book. So I did. As the pages became saturated with words making their way from my mind to the computer, the months went by. My life moved on. I changed jobs. I applied to Emory University. I took the GMAT. I scored 730 (97th percentile). I was accepted. I deferred entry one year. These changes consumed up all those extra free hours. My available time dwindled to an hour during lunch each day.
To date, this 95,000 word manuscript covers 239 single-spaced Word pages – roughly 320 to 380 paperback pages. It tells the tale of an archeological discovery in the mountains of Colombia and the military conflict that it sparks. There are hosts of characters, all involved in one way or another with this discovery. The story also deals with some of the intricacies of Colombia's war on Marxist guerrillas (they were originally Marxist – not so much anymore). Also, the novel explores the suspected connections between the government and the paramilitary organizations independently and subversively fighting these leftist groups. All in all, I think it's an interesting story with plenty of good sub-plots. Despite a good foundation, it's riddled with weaknesses and things I don't quite like which I intend to correct. Then of course, there's the whole issue with its climax.
After a busy year I had reached the end of my novel only to realize that the climax was, well, anti-climactic. A total block followed shortly thereafter. I read and reviewed, and read and reviewed some more. I liked most of what I had written. I liked the build-up. Unfortunately, the climax was just not there. I have the end perfectly in mind. I actually wrote some of it down, but not being able to effectively bring the story to its highest point rendered me completely wordless. Even as I write this, I know that I am only one inspired thought away from finishing this novel. I cannot wait. I hope writing these cubes will help unclog my mind just enough for that one thought to seep through. Until then, I will continue to wait patiently and hope that it comes naturally and without external help.
At about the time I went to college I somehow acquired the taste for the written word. Perhaps it's because around that time I also first realized the joys of reading a good book. For the first time in my life (sad as it may sound) I was reading for fun. It was very likely equating reading with fun that led me to the association between fun and writing.
The first book I read was Timothy Zahn's Dark Force Rising (the second of the Thrawn Trilogy of Star Wars expanded universe books). I picked it up at the bookstore without knowing what it was. I actually thought it was the second book of the original Star Wars trilogy for some stupid reason. Of course as I read along I realized that it wasn't, but it was interesting enough to keep me hooked until the end. After I was done, I bought the first and last of the series and finished them up with much enjoyment.
Although I enjoyed the genre, I thought I'd much rather read something else next. Heavily influenced by my sister, I picked up my first Stephen King book – one of his short story compilations – The Skeleton Crew. I devoured it. This was my first exposure to a short story compilation and I really loved the format. In a short story, the author has little time to waste on frills – he/she just has to get to the point. This was a real appealing characteristic to me. I was aching to write, but lacked the patience or determination to actually see through a wholly developed storyline.
So at my most depressed period I started writing. My initial stories all had a very dark, very final feel to them. It was as if the main character was always stuck in some psychological situation with no other solution than committing suicide – yes, pretty grim. I can't help but realize how these stories were a healthy outlet for some of my own feelings. Okay, I was never actually close to doing anything like that. Although, in a period of sustained existential angst, I felt sometimes like I could do it. Some of my characters actually went through with it in their own way.
As my life improved and I matured past my existential existence, my stories became less one dimensional. My writing abilities also got better (by judging these cubes you can tell there is still much room for improvement). As my life became busier after college (work and life and all), I had less and less time for writing. At some point I completely ceased. Ideas kept bombarding my brain, but I just couldn't find time or energy to put them on paper. Years passed before I actually wrote anything again.
During that time I often revisited my finished stories and read them over and over again. I spent a fair amount of time fixing them. Some were "unfixable" – the stories were just weird and even silly. Regardless, they are each indicative of a frame of mind, of a time in my life that brings back memories. It would not be fair to butcher them into something different. Besides, even Stephen King has written crappy stories. If he's entitled, then so am I.
These stories are part of who I am, or at least who I was. They chart the path of my life, or at least stages of it. I enjoy writing them so much I am determined to find time to continue doing so. If I cannot finish my novel, or start a new one, rest assured I will be splitting time between writing in these cubes and writing a short story. That is at least until the well runs dry. I hope it doesn't.