7 October, 2001

You want to hear something really freaky?

I'm working on the prequel to The Magic Flute, and I finish the second scene. It looks good. I'm jazzed. I've gotten my first good look at Armada, and I've reconciled myself to the fact that I don't know her. Never met her before. Don't know what she is going to do next. She behaves herself. Let's Tahrl go. End of scene. Awesome! This is the kind of revision I've been looking for. It's really late so I go to bed. I'm really jazzed so it takes a while to nod off.

The phone wakes me up. I look at the clock. It's like 6 AM. I'm not sure. I'm still mostly asleep. Phone rings again. I don't want to answer. My radio will switch on soon enough so I'll check my messages then. Radio finally switches on and I hear someone say something about a plane having just crashed into the Pentagon. I don't think I need to go into any more detail here.

You may have noticed that my website has remained quiet on this subject. There is a very simple reason for that. I don't need to hear myself speak. There are many people far more qualified than myself voicing their opinions on the subject. They have said everything I could say much more eloquently than I could ever hope to say myself.

Sorry, I'll stop grandstanding now. Now, here is the freaky part.

About a week later, I'm going over the first two scenes, and I swear that my skin starts to crawl. The prequel begins with the aftermath of a berserk dragon attacking a town. The language is full of references to destroyed buildings and murdered people. There are even a couple of lines about how the townsfolk will now always be looking to the sky and how things will never be the same. Holy shit! Coincidences like this just kind of smack a person around, don't they?

Hell, the whole book is about fear and paranoia and mob mentality. Part of it anyway. There's also a bit about not hating someone just because they are different. And, also a bit about spotting the difference between allies and enemies who look the same from a distance. Parts of it. Freaked me out.

This book is cursed. No, really, it's cursed or something. I remember the day I scribbled the first take of the first scene, or to be more precise, I remember the next morning. The Challenger exploded. The news said that the astronauts didn't die right away. The entire command cabin was thrown clear of the explosion and was still intact when it hit the water. The astronauts didn't die in a fireball; they drowned. They were even conscious when the cabin struck the ocean. Just try to imagine it. One moment, you are shake, rattle and rolling your way to the stars. Next thing you know, you are plummeting. Spinning every which way. Strapped in your seat. Nothing you can do about it but scream your lungs out. Which are promptly filled with salt water.

So, I went and looked over the two paragraphs I had written the night before the Challenger blew-up. It's a bunch of people trapped in a cellar while a monster destroys their home. Think about it. The paragraphs describe a group of people trapped in a confined space while horrible things happen all around them. Reading that after learning what had happened to the astronauts the next day was creepy.

I can tell you one thing for sure. I'm never going to do a third version of this story.

Anyway, that's all I had to say.

19 October, 2001

To answer a question that nobody has asked, The Faire Folk of Gideon was supposed to be a lark. It was supposed to be light and airy and a ripping yarn. It was meant as a swashbuckling tale of daring do. I wanted to write a serial adventure, posting one episode per week on my website, giving people a reason to make return visits. Like serial novels, people wouldn't be able to turn to the last page and learn how it all turned out. People would have to wait. Tune in next week for another exciting adventure.

Anyway, that was the idea. Something light and exciting that didn't require too much effort on my part to plan and develop and whatnot. It was supposed to be more or less episodic with a central base of operations from which our hero could go just about anywhere and do just about anything. I would be able to switch from Medieval Fantasy to Modern Drama to Flash Gordon at whim. The original idea was to work on both The Faire Folk of Gideon and the prequel to The Magic Flute at the same time. It was fun. There was a point where I was cranking out two episodes of The Faire Folk of Gideon per day.

The first shock was that The Faire Folk of Gideon decided it wanted to be an epic adventure, and something I thought I was making up as I went along suddenly had an arc. By episode four, I knew what most of the story was going to be, and I figured it was going to take at least a thousand pages to tell. Those pages would be divided into four books. There could be five books, depending on how everything falls down. This discovery happened very early on, and it was about chapter six that I knew there was no turning back. Yes, they are chapters now and not episodes.

Chapter six was the first one to scare me because it started to lay out what was going to happen. When I am trying to write a story spontaneously, I don't like putting the future in stone, which is exactly what was happening in chapter six. I panicked and started placing everything in the past tense. Let people guess which had and had not happened yet. I could write it off as our hero telling the story from some date in the future and so he could talk about everything in the past tense. Yeah, that's it. Just so you know, the part that hasn't happened yet is the popular uprising, which will take up all of book two and at least half of book three, depending on if there are going to be four or five books.

As if this wasn't shock enough, the story turned serious. It was supposed to be fun, but damn, if it didn't turn gross. I had to stop writing in the middle of chapter seven and go for a walk. It was supposed to be fun. I figured I had an audience of me so I could do anything that made me laugh, but I wasn't expecting it to be sad or depressing.

Oh, well.

31 October, 2001

I've been toying with the idea of doing a web comic, trying to develop ideas and figure out how to work Adobe Illustrator. I can't draw. This makes a web comic difficult; however, it is not going to stop me. Crudely drawn stick figures are my specialty.

I want to do something light and serial to go on my website on a regular basis, which is what The Faire Folk of Gideon was supposed to be before it got serious, and I thought that a stick figure web comic just might work.

There are a few things I want to test before I finally commit to the comic: (1) can I tell a joke? (2) can I do it again? (3) and again? (4) and again without people hacking my site just to get me to stop?

So, I figured the best thing to do was draw a bunch of stick figure comics the pencil and paper way and see how long I could keep it up. As of this morning, I have twenty-two comics down on paper, and they are not your traditional three to four panels and then out. These comics are seven to ten panels each. It's easy when they're just stick figures, I guess.

It's proving to be a lot of fun, and there has been an interesting side effect. The prequel to The Magic Flute has been much easier to write since I started experimenting with the comic. Don't ask me why. I don't like analyzing these things.

Now, all I have to do is figure out how to get my pencil and paper scribblings into an electronic format. I don't have a scanner, and I don't think they would scan very well anyway. So, I have been experimenting with Adobe Illustrator. For the past two days, I have done nothing but fight with Adobe Illustrator.

It is tough. I've managed to get the first paper comic redrawn in Illustrator, and it only took two days, which sounds really insane when you think about the fact that it only took about five minutes to draw on paper. I guess if I knew what I was doing with Illustrator then everything would go much faster.

Anyway, I'm thinking about calling it String Finger Theatre.

copyright © 2001 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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