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 Shining. While the hotel was malevolently haunted, our three heroes were generally unimpressed. Daryl was violent and crazy, taking on the ghosts when they appeared. Martin was moody and sensitive to the ghosts, and Azizi simply couldn’t see the ghosts and obsessed about soccer.
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.