'Not In My Write Mind' features trials and tales from my quest to go from a mediocre writer to a published mediocre writer. Please feel free to share in my struggle and laugh at my pain.
Today, I began the process (again) of trying to figure out what my story for The Writer's Arena would be. As you might recall, the prompt for it read:
..this challenge asks the question, what happens when you reach the edge? What happens when you stare beyond the bounds of reality and find something else staring back at you?
To help spur me on in my pursuit of glory, I got a very artfully crafted and quasi-threatening letter in the mail from Tony Southcotte himself.
It was basically a repeating of the prompt/challenge, but this time in a physical (i.e. real) form. It's always nice to get mail, especially when its something cool like this.
Unfortunately, I still wasn't sure about what tale I was going to tell. It was time take a walk with the dogs and think things over. After about two miles, a few ideas had popped into my head...most of them terrible. The good ones, on the other hand, all appeared to have been previously taken.
Me: What if the a spaceship goes to the end of the galaxy and finds some sort of hellish dimension...or even hell itself...which causes the entire crew to go crazy?
Brain: That's basically the plot to 'Event Horizon.'
Me: Crap! Alright, what if I go in a completely different direction? Maybe it could be a comedy about some sort of bar or rest stop at the end of the universe...
Brain: Second Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book.
Me: SON OF A...okay, this might be a little out of my wheelhouse, but perhaps I should go with a bigger scope. A spaceship gets to the end of the universe and is greeted by God or some type of god-like entity. The spaceship's crew grapple with how their view an all powerful creator differs with what is before them...or if it really is a 'god' at all.
Brain: Yeah...Star Trek V and Star Trek: The Next Generation S1, E8.
Maybe my ideas aren't exactly like those, but they still felt far too derivative. It's perfectly fine to take inspiration from something, but at the end of the day, you need to tell your own story.
I'm also struggling with the fact that the vastness of space isn't an area in which I'm very comfortable setting a story. I prefer urban and claustrophobic over contained expanse. How the heck can I tell a story about the end of the universe and still create that type of environment. I mean, I guess they could *redacted for story secrecy*. That would actually make for a pretty cool movie or book, especially if they added in *redacted for story secrecy.* Oh, and it would be so cool if *redacted for story secrecy*. Man, I would love to read that...
...wait a second. I think an idea idea just officially popped into my head. Bits a pieces from different basic/generic plot points begin to pull together with a mix of my own characters, story arc desires, and direction. I stop walking as scenes of a story I haven't read or seen before...a story I would very much like to read or see...begin to take shape inside my brain.
It's nestled there in my head now, inspired by a number of factors:
1.) Previous stories I have enjoyed and experienced.
2.) The fact that I haven't seen a story exactly like it (and if I wasn't writing it, I would really want to read it).
3.) A looming deadline.
Now for all I know, this story idea could be complete crap. That's not me trying to be graciously self-deprecating, by the way. This thing may very well suck; I've had plenty of bad ideas (and resulting stories) before. But it's my idea, gosh darn it, and I'm going to see it through.
Time to head over to Starbucks, order a venti cup of delicious liquid inspiration, and hope that the old guy who watches Youtube videos on his phone with the sound turned up finally bought a set of headphones.
Let's do this.
Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.
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