Wednesday, December 08, 2010

BlogBack #2: A Good Story Needs Ax Wielding Squirrels

Oh, the notorious ax wielding squirrels. Today's BlogBack spotlighted post was not the only time I ever used the infamous ax wielding squirrels, because I did one post before and one post after with them. But this was the post that they were always meant to be in; you could say it was their destiny. Not that I'd say that because really they're just a silly part of my twisted imagination. Or more specifically, part of a shared imagination, but we'll be getting to that. The ax wielding squirrels were always intended to be a part of possibly one of my silliest blogs but definitely one I had the most fun with, An Exclusive Excerpt From The Novel I'll Never Publish (Or Write).

The ax wielding squirrel were actually formed like many ill conceived ideas, in February. I was procrastinating from writing work, and decided it was more advantageous to talk about writing with a friend. I was going over some of my game plan for the year, and also mentioned a few of my long term goals. I talked about how one of my biggest goals and dreams that I've had since I was a child was to publish a novel. I had hoped to be able to start work on one within the year or so. I was trying to brainstorm ideas that I knew I'd really enjoy writing about (which is sort of necessary if you're going to commit to a monster of words like a novel), but also something that would be fairly marketable to some of the more mainstream presses. The reality is, I wouldn't mind publishing a few novels or books, and also trying to eventually make a career out of it (several more years from now, of course -- I'm a dreamer but not oblivious to reality). This naturally led to us popping out some of the most absurd novel ideas that have ever been allowed among the living. I am not sure who originally came up with the ax wielding squirrels, but somehow, they became the characters that got the most mentions for the remainder of the conversation.

It was then that my friend laid out the challenge. He wanted me to write a novel about the ax wielding squirrels. They didn't need to be the central character but they needed to play an important part of the story. Since it was February and also my day was already shot from too much chatting, I decided it couldn't get any worse and took him up on his challenge. So, from that moment on I knew the ax wielding squirrels would be entrenched into my mind, until I released them into the world for all to read. Of course, I never really had any intention of actually trying to write a sellable novel about ax wielding squirrels. But I did think it would be kind of fun to write a silly short story about them, and then throw it up on the blog for others to enjoy (and I was sure my friend would get a kick out of it too).

That evening in the shower, the place that oddly enough I actually get lots of my idea, I started roughly forming how I wanted the blog to go with my ax wielding squirrels. It was during this time that I came up with the idea of doing a 'novel excerpt', so I could still claim the ax wielding squirrels were part of a novel, but nobody was going to be able to read the rest of it (but it would remain completed in my own mind). I also had the vision of a man being trapped in his house, while a horde of ax wielding squirrels were tying to break through. Because I didn't really have a choice, I opted for it to be something really campy and over the top. By the time I was clean and ready for slumber, I had a rough idea of what I wanted the rather silly story to be like.

Then life got in the way, and I did not think about the idea for a long time after. I still wanted to write the excerpt but either I was presented with a day that was so tiring that I didn't feel like doing a longer blog, or I did have enough time for a long blog but there was a hot topic that deserved my attention. I knew the idea was silly and I wasn't overly concerned about the quality (I had know delusions of it being the greatest thing I had ever written), but I also knew that since it was a creative piece it was likely to take longer to write than one of my rants. Plus even though it would be intended to be tongue in cheek and campy, I still wanted to make sure it was enjoyable and something people wanted to read. So, I held off.

It had now been months since I talked about ax wielding squirrels with my friend. I sort of felt bad that I never followed up, because I started to think the joke would lose its relevance if I waited too much longer (it is hard to laugh at something you don't remember anymore). Then one day I was especially miffed at the number of forwards that I was getting from people, and specifically the types that are apparently trying to inform me about safety issues but are completely false (but the person sending it off never tried to confirm the facts were verifiable). I initially planned to just rant and rave about how annoying and useless the majority of forwards were, until I realized I could do something that would get the same point across and be far more entertaining (to me). So, I wrote my very own fictional forward e-mail. Though I think people may have been turned off by a title that was promising it was a forward, because it was probably my least viewed creative piece ever (even though I still think it's pretty fun). While I was writing it, I thought this would be a great spot to insert my ax wielding squirrels, and would also relieve me of the duty of having to include them in other stories. So, they became a key part of the forward, and I believed at the time that I was finally rid of them.

The thing is, that novel except idea was still in my head. It caused me to start thinking I short changed those ax wielding squirrels. Yes, they were just a stupid idea, but an idea that had been with me for a good portion of the year. They deserved more. Besides, I felt I sort of ripped off my friend too. I started thinking, I'd eventually need to write that novel excerpt.

In the fall, I came up with a new idea for my blog that I was really excited about. I wanted to write a short story that I would post on Halloween. It would be a story that I would actually work several weeks on, and make sure it was up to the same quality I would need to sell to publishers (opposed to the hour or so jobs on this blog). I wanted it to be something you'd normally pay for in a short story compilation book or magazine, but would be absolutely free on this blog. My only request would be that if people liked it that they linked or referred it to others. My hope was that it would be the most viewed thing ever on my blog, and be a good way to get a small bit of attention. Plus I just thought it would be really fun, especially since I've done very little fiction this year. I started brainstorming on the ideas I wanted for my story, or more to the point, trying to choose from my abundance of story ideas (I've never struggled with coming up with the idea). I was in a spot where I wanted to choose a really good story, but maybe not something I actually thought I could easily sell and make money from. It was an interesting challenge since I wanted something really good, but not something so good that I'd regret giving it away completely for free. In the end, I decided I'd do a classic campfire type story about a boy that had to enter a believed to be haunted house on a dare from the school bully. It was a rather cliche horror story idea, but I had a few twists that I thought would make it an unique look at a traditional idea.

Remember when I talked about life getting in the way? Well, it did that again. I ended up working a lot over the fall. It was either intimate time with the scanner, or actually doing paid ad copy work. Plus there was that whole trying to spend quality time with those you love thing, which I hear is a good thing to do for a happy life. So, the weeks of October flew by, and I had little time to start work on my shot story. By the time there was a week left, I decided to give up on the idea of posting it on Halloween, and thought I'd use the idea for another time. So, I sadly resigned that my big blog surprise would be that nothing would happen on Halloween, but at least, no one knew that was ever the plan (except me and Emily, who I told it to).

The problem was, that my nagging conscious kept letting me know what a quitter I was. How much a bummer it was that I didn't put anything creative on my blog. The fact was, I rarely dared to put my creative writing on my blog (other than the few silly paragraphs of fluff I did to pass of as a blog post for the day). So, I started thinking that maybe I should still try to post something similar to a short story on my blog, even if it didn't have weeks of work put into it.

It was a few days after Halloween, but I finally decided I would write my 'novel excerpt.' It would allow me to fulfill the long forgotten promise to a friend, but also let me post something similar to a short story. Instead of spending weeks on a sellable piece of fiction, I spent an hour or so on a novel excerpt that would likely be rejected by an publisher who didn't just have a lobotomy. But the important part is that it was a lot of fun to write, and actually, there was a few people that got a kick out of it too.

Now, you know why you were all subjected to one of the oddest blog posts that ever showed up on this site. You now have an idea why I bothered posting something that claimed it would never be finished or published. More importantly, you know why the ax wielding squirrels keep haunting this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:42 pm

    Tim Teakle via Facebook:

    likes this.