Judgment Day: Introduction
Okay! Time to wheel out the horrible failed novel project. I’ve been promising to do this forever and, next week, it’ll begin.
The project began in 1997 while I was working for an Associated Press-owned company, performing tedious editorial bullshit from nine to five in a lonely office out in Landover, MD. The company was in a converted warehouse, and my office was at the end of a maze of corridors, everything around me feeling temporary and feeble. There was no human interaction, just the occasional encounter with a janitor or an IT guy, so I spent lots of time online chatting with my friend up in Baltimore. He and I cooked up this plan to write a screenplay about three college guys – Daryl, Martin, and Azizi – hired by a mountain resort to be winter caretakers, like in The
My friend was a fuck-up who couldn’t deliver copy, so I finished the screenplay, hated it, then spun it out into a novel called The Contract in 1999. As usual, I left it unfinished. Though I couldn’t shake Daryl, Martin, and Azizi. I wanted to try and do some justice to the characters battering around in my head, so I took them and applied the same sort of formula: Three college guys generally unfazed by the apocalypse. The title of this new novel was Mir Descending, and I started it in early 2001 after reading about the killer space bugs on the Mir space station, which began a controlled re-entry and burn-up in March of that year. What if those mutant space bugs survived and turned people into zombie monster whatever things? Easy enough! So I feverishly set to work and it, too, went unfinished and ignored.
By 2003, I had two half-finished novels sitting around and was still haunted by these characters, so I returned to Mir Descending, struggled with the fact that it was now dated and silly, and decided to remove the Mir paranoia and make the apocalypse something more vague.
I was working then as much as I do now – several jobs, and always on the run. In the brain death of commuting, I settled on the working title Judgment Day. I threw out the screenplay, The Contract, and Mir Descending, and started fresh. No distractions! The challenge – write Judgment Day through to the end, no matter what. If I got stuck, then I’d either punch through or gloss over. The point became less about writing well and more about just finishing a project that wasn’t The Boble.
The result was 370 pages of utter crap. And…it’s still unfinished. I cheated. I wrote a little epilogue and left it open with a trilogy in mind. Though I did go so far as write the first 50 pages of the second book.
By 2004, Judgment Day had gone through nine edits. Still with little improvement, but I was crazy enough to send out sample chapters and a synopsis to publishers. That was, mostly, a lark. Something to do to distract me from writing. By the end of 2004, I put the novel into a cobwebbed corner of my harddrive and moved on.
In the screenplay, and the first two attempts at a novel, the characters were pretty basic. Azizi was the comic relief and the Doubting Thomas, Martin was the sensitive one, and Daryl was the violent one. When starting Judgment Day, I decided to open up with the most dynamic of the trio, Daryl, and the story eventually morphed to be from his point of view. As a necessity, he and Martin switched roles. Martin became the warrior and Daryl became the sensitive sort. Wildly pushing through for an ending, do or die, inflicted quite a few changes to the characters…and cured me of my need to write about them. Judgment Day had left my consciousness by 2005, when I started publishing real writers and real books. As I launched into the foolishness of publishing, I didn’t have much time at all to think about my own writing. Now that I have my wits back, thanks to miracle cures and the transition (or death?) of the publishing industry, I’m shocked to look back at my writing and realize that I have tens of thousands of pages of really embarrassing stuff. Thank god for Greatsociety. If it wasn’t for this page, you’d never be able to laugh at me.