Forgotten Characters Coming Back To Life

Posted: February 13, 2012 by ajbrown in Writing
Tags: , ,

The other day I was out in my shop rummaging around in search of some plumbers putty. Very funny… No, I was not searching for it to spackle up someone’s butt crack (the least of which is mine). The drain in the kitchen needed fixing–the seal between the basin and the drain itself had broken, therefore leaking whatever water was put in that side of the sink into the cabinet below and, ultimately, onto the kitchen floor.

During my search I came across some papers and spiral notebooks sitting on an old desk. I opened one of them up–it read FYI Stationers NOTEBOOK on the front. The paper inside was bright yellow and college ruled. It had that slightly dusty aroma–you know the type of smell that old paper gets over time. The heading, centered on that first page, read (in block letters, I might add) ROUTINE. To the right was a date: 1-12-06.

Six years ago.

That was maybe a year or so after I started taking writing seriously, when I sought to be a published author more than a polished one. The first line, as horrible as it is, reads:

It was all a routine for Gregory.

The next line pretty much said the same thing, only worded differently:

It was the same thing day in and day out.

Duh… It’s a routine for a reason, A.J.

The first page and a half of the handwritten story goes into the routine that poor Gregory suffers through, something he tried his best to never deviate from. By the third page I must have thought I was brilliant because I changed the tense of the story. Surely no one will notice that I went from present tense to past tense (and it stayed that way for the next six or so pages before changing back to present tense). Nobody pays attention to this stuff, right?

The routine began to change and Gregory noticed his world unraveling, including seeing his mom and uncle playing cards at the kitchen table one day to them humping like dogs the next. And no, I did not use the term ‘humping like dogs’ in the story–I’m not that pathetic.

At any rate, Gregory’s world continues to crumble, but I apparently stopped writing on it at some point to move onto something else.

The next entry was almost two years later and the writing was a little better, but the story only went two paragraphs in before I gave up on it. I must have lost the notepad for a while and found it when I started to write the second story.

I flipped through the book and noticed that, no, I didn’t lose it after all. I just turned it over and started writing from the reverse side. The first piece from the back was my story, The Dead Don’t Like the Sounds of Basketballs, a piece where the dead leave their graves in order to stop a man from shooting baskets on a court built right next to the grave yard they were in.

Another of these notebooks was a blue Staples pad and, like the first one, there were several stories that were started and even more ideas just jotted down in hopes of one day being written. Some of the story ideas are interesting in and of themselves. More importantly, the notes and complete outline to a novel I wrote in 2006 (Unbroken Crayons) was in there. I looked over the outline and realized that there was so much more I could do with this novel. I think a rewrite may be in order.

Still there were other notebooks that held the beginnings of other incomplete works, all dated around the 2006-2008 time period. I read through a good chunk of these intros and, quite honestly, found the writing to be atrocious at best. But the ideas… many of those were solid. And the characters–there were many great characters, all of them with incomplete lives, just hanging out in limbo, waiting to be completed… waiting for me to breathe new life into them.

All those notes made me think of another story I wrote titled Dead Characters. It appeared in SNM Horror Magazine (an online publication) a couple of years ago. In the story a writer has to finish telling the story of one of his characters or other characters from other unfinished projects were going to bust down the door and kill the nice little author guy. It was a fun story to write, but looking at all these notes and unfinished pieces I realize that there is no way to finish them all or even write out some of the ideas that I jotted down so not to forget them. I don’t even think the pressure of dead characters coming to life could help me write all the stories I have notes for.

I’ll probably revisit some of the stories, if anything so I can recall the characters and use them in other pieces. At least that way they aren’t completely forgotten ghosts wishing they had closure to lives never finished. ROUTINE will definitely get a makeover and, hopefully, get completed. The storyline has potential. Besides I want to know what happens to Gregory’s mom and uncle. Surely something has to come of them doing it on the table.

One thing I’ve noticed is different now than it was six years ago. Besides the writing is better than it was back then, if I leave a story undone for any length of time now it bugs the crap out of me. I find that I have a hard time working on other pieces until I go back to the unfinished one and do my best to complete it. Back then, if I didn’t complete a story I was okay with it. Just move on to the next one. No big deal. I don’t seem to be able to do that any longer.

I reckon that’s a good thing. Too many lives have been left in limbo—if this were Greek or Roman mythology, how sad would it be with all those lives hanging in the balance while I played with others?

All these characters… just waiting to be explored and to live and, more than likely, get killed in some tragic way. At least there stories would be complete, right?

Now, to work on Her Cure before bedtime and eventually I’ll finish it so I can head to something else. Maybe ROUTINE.

Until we meet again, my friends…

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Comments
  1. I can identify with that. I have a few short stories I had planned to put together, but not sure if it’s worth begging somebody to edit them. I have two novels or at least novellas I started, but I’m unclear where or which one I should start. I guess that’s why I haven’t done much of anything of late.

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