|I had to post this picture in black and white because writing on a typewriter seems that far away in time -- from an age when the world was in black and white, before they invented color.
I guess I’ve been writing stories off and on most of my life. Why, just this summer, while getting rid of some boxes of junk I’d saved for 40 some years, I discovered a bunch of handwritten story books that I’d written sometime after fifth grade when I started to read for fun. I’d forgotten all about those little books. They were mostly science fiction stories, from my Tom Swift and Tom Corbet, Space Cadet era, and perhaps some spy stories from that Man from U.N.C.L.E era as well. I still have my U.N.C.L.E card.
The curious thing about my memory is that I remember very little of my life. I can remember facts, but looking back at my life, it is mostly those facts, giving it a sort of skimpy third person narrative feel to it. Just today while collecting some material for this Early Works blog project, I discovered a manuscript that I have no recollection of – a second complete version of the science fiction novella I wrote entitled “The Hybrid-Worlder.”
Now, I’ve always known that I wrote that story – I’ve had its manuscript on a shelf for 30 some years – but apparently the ms I knew I had was only the first version. It’s 29,900 words long and dated June 1979. The typed ms I discovered today is some 21,900 words and dated October 1979, and has a completely different opening than the June version. Truth is, I really don’t remember much of the story at all, so I have no idea what else changed from one version to the other beyond the opening scene, though it got 8000 words shorter. I also discovered the opening chapter of a third version that I also have no recollection of either. This version I started in 1989, and includes a long outline of the principles of starship propulsion as well as detailed plans of the starship, The Shadow of Dreams, or the Cir Ay Cey as it became known in that version. I also have a completed short story with the same narrator, Rhyl Dunbar.
I’m planning on posting the first couple of pages of all three versions, just to illustrate how they changed over the years, plus some pages from a comic book version I did as well. I do know that I changed the story for the later comic book version and have a much clearer idea of that version then the others.
In addition to that novella, I’ll post the first chapter of my 85,000 word fantasy novel, "The Brigand Sea-Prince." It is a story about an envoy sent to the court of some far-ranging sea raiders. I remember that much, and one dungeon scene, but otherwise the story is pretty much a complete blank. Couldn’t have been very good, eh?
This summer I also found my collection of rejection slips for those two completed manuscripts that I had collected back in 1979. I was surprised to find that I’d actually sent them out to so many magazines of the times. I didn’t remember being that preserving.
I also will share the opening pages of several other stories I started and never finished, one, at least that I’ve no recollection of. I did have one other novel in the works – a box full of 3x5 cards, outlines, character studies, and such, for a cold-war era sci-fi story that I was planning to write, but never did. It dealt with the Reagan era “star-wars” type of anti-ballistic missile system of that era and the implications of what a unilateral ending of “assured mutual destruction” might mean. Most of this was all handwritten, and I believe I got rid of all of it this summer.
The last treasure is the first draft of a completed manuscript – a young adult environmental mystery/adventure novel written on a Z88 computer and printed on a dot matrix printer that date from sometime in the late 1980’s. I never got around to submitting this piece. I think I lost the second draft when I had to reset the computer, or some such thing. I can’t think for the life of me why I decided to write a YA novel.
After that I gave up on writing and turned to painting for my creative outlet. I'd been painting off and on all my life, and paintings offered two great advantages over writing. The first that a painting, at least the way I paint them doesn't take a year or more to complete. The results are far more immediate with far less work than a book. (I've never been a fan of short stories, as a rule.) The second great advantage of painting is that once done, is complete in itself. You can hang it on the wall, display it in galleries, or on line, you can sell it or sell prints of it. A completed manuscript is not complete until it is published, and with one chance in a hundred of it being published commercially, well, you're unlikely to ever see it complete -- a book strangers can read.
However, that changed sometime around 2007-8 with ebooks and the kindle. After that, you could take a manuscript from start to finish yourself. And so, when the writing bug bit me again around that time, I took up writing again – The Kiss of the White Witch, being the first result of this new burst of creativity, which over the last decade lead to the four books I have taken from manuscript to their completed form as books myself.
My plan is to post the opening chapters -- a few pages -- of these works, just for shits and giggles. They are all "analog", i.e. typewritten copies, and though I tried to digitize them using an OCR app, with all the necessary corrections, just retyping them seems just about as fast, which is not fast at all, hence just a sample of a few pages of each of them
I think that it may prove interesting as to how my writing has changed – and has not. I’ll also post some comments about them as well. Some of them are pretty bad, but I must say that I was surprised just how many of the ideas I used in these early works made it into my Bright Black Sea – even though I’d completely forgotten the original stories.
So, in the next post, we’ll start this walk down memory lane with the sci-fi novella, “The Hybrid-Worlder” version 1. Stay tuned.