Every now and then I go through my old archives to see if there are any unfinished ideas that I could mine for inspiration and/or new material. This process was how I got around to doing new material for THE SEIZURE webcomic and for its spinoff webcomic, WEEKEND HEROES. Recently I dug up an old novel manuscript I had written way back in 2002 which never saw print…and probably never will.
Why will it never see print, you may ask? Well, for one, the writing is EXTREMELY raw, and I have no motivation to polish it up. Also, I really want to move on to other projects I’m more passionate about (like promoting my latest sci-fi novel GODMODE. Get your copy now at http://godmode.quanwilliams.com).
But the main reason why I won’t pursue finding an agent or publisher for the novel is that I’m not too sure I want this book to represent me as a writer. You see, I was in a very dark place in my life when I wrote the story. I had just lost my job to corporate outsourcing, I nearly lost two relatives and a close friend to the attacks on 9/11, the music group and entertainment corporation I had been a part of for the past 2 years was on the verge of dissolving, and I had just been screwed over by an auto mechanic on car repairs. I was NOT a happy guy. At that time I had an idea for a story bouncing around my head because I saw Christopher Walken’s character portrayal in “Last Man Standing” and loved how he portrayed a remorseless thug. I wanted to write a story about that. I had visions of this badass old thug walking down the street with some Deliberately-paced death metal playing behind him. He’d swoop into a city, do some dirt and leave. Kind of like Jack Reacher, except this dude has no morals whatsoever (but he does like dogs). I was also into John Malkovich’s criminal mastermind characters, and I came up with the idea of what if these two guys were pitted against each other? And that was the genesis of my unpublished crime novel BAD MEETS EVIL. While prewriting I heard of some writers debating on whether you could write an engaging story which was devoid of sympathetic characters, and I took that as a challenge. So this story evolved into a full-on evil-fest, starring seven dastardly people (each loosely representing one of the seven deadly sins) locked in a competition none of them could win. There’s a big illegal money deal going down, and everybody wants in on it: from The lazy CEO Vick and his Lustful, philandering wife Barb, to The arrogant Human trafficker Ken and his Wrathful crooked cop brother Abe, to the Greedy Private Investigator Kwame and his Envious girlfriend Terri, and of course The gluttonous superhoodlum John who is at the center of it all.
While writing this story, I ended up pouring all of my anger and frustration at my situation into the book. The result is a story that I wrote to intentionally offend and disgust as many of its readers as possible, regardless of race, religion, gender, social status, or sexual preference. I wanted to piss EVERYBODY off. The story was basically my middle finger to the whole world. Once done, there were actually some people brave enough to want to proofread it (I warned them about it, though. I told them that after reading it, they might want to take a bath). None of them could get past the first chapter. But it was for a reason other than the story being offensive. They simply couldn’t find my central protagonist interesting enough to want to read any more about him. That’s the cardinal rule of storytelling, it doesn’t matter how virtuous or evil your hero is, he has to first and foremost be interesting. And in that regard I failed. And that was the end of that, so I moved on to another story.
I think some people would think creating unpublishable works to be a waste of time, but I beg to differ. First of all, it’s good exercise, and helps a lot towards developing your voice and writing style. Secondly, it can be very therapeutic to just cut loose and not worry about grammar and character development and all that other stuff that content editors harp on. Just let the imagination run and see where it takes you. Thirdly, your unprintable story might have some ideas in it you can come back and mine later on for other more salable projects. I recently went through Bad Meets Evil for some ideas regarding a crime screenplay a buddy of mine wants to cowrite with me. So there’s that.