Polishing up Stories

So today has mainly been spent going over one of my older stories, Fish Food, which is a Sci-Fi story about the Universe’s imaginary friend called Kaleb. The story came from somewhere in between The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Drop Dead Fred, and a writing competition with the theme “Gluttony”.

I sat down with my brother Anthony, and like most things in my life, something strange happened while we roleplayed. I was bored, and I think he was a little creatively stumped, so I suggested a roleplaying experience where he could do whatever he wanted. The experience unfolded into something that i’ve been fascinated about ever since.

It started with an idea about the Universe as a person, flawed and immature, and not really capable of dealing with the issues that go on around it. Kaleb is created as a way to cope with the stress and troubles of the Universe’s daily life, in his own indifferent and sarcastic way.

There were four assassins sent to either capture, kill, or remove the universe: The Glutton, The Beast, The Saint, and The Rebel. Each had their own unique way to deal with the Universe, but none of them seem equipped to deal with it’s imagination. We only roleplayed one situation, and it was a lot of fun, but naturally I had to see what was going to happen next.

Since that session, where both me and my brother Anthony ended up crying with laughter, i’ve written three stories in the same universe, two of which featured Kaleb directly. He’s a strange character, and I knew when I created him that I wanted someone who could do just about everything, but in a way it didn’t look like a Superman experience.

Don’t get me wrong, Superman is a wonderful character, but it’s the personality and limitations that draw me into a character, and I knew that I wanted Kaleb to have something  to stop him doing whatever he wanted all the time, and generally ruining the story with over the top boring bits.

Today I finished a story I stated last year, which i’d stopped at around 8000 words because I couldn’t figure out how it ended. I wanted to put Kaleb against something strange, and not initially threatening, and I knew for some reason that I had to incorporate fish into the mix. The result was the story Fish Food.

Finishing the story revealed a big chunk of the mythos of the universe, and one of the major points behind a character as cool and dangerous as Kaleb. The first being he isn’t in control of his life, he’s an imaginary character, probably the coolest one every but still. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be for a person, to know that while they can act however they want, they are ultimately controlled and limited by those that believe in them. It’s kind of poetic, but I don’t think he’d feel that way.

Those moments which seem to click complicated issues into place and suddenly make sense still fill me with awe, and reinforce the idea that if I do know what i’m doing it’s definitely on a subconscious level. If you’re struggling with your own issue, my advice is to just keep going at it. If your story seems lost, keep going. If your art feels flat and uninspired, keep going. Whatever it is, just keep going.

Art rarely turns out the way we fantasise in our heads, but you have to get it done, that you can figure out what to do next, even if it’s just work on something else. Don’t let those deflated moments get to you, and don’t take yourself or your art too seriously, it gets in the way of actually doing it.






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