The first draft of The Unborn versus The Undead was completed in 2005. It took just a little more than a month. Now, more than 13 years later, I’ve finally come back to it, redrafted and edited it, and published it online. It’s hard to explain such a long gap; but in fact, I have plans to edit and publish work that was finished even longer ago.
I don’t want to make a habit of writing-about-writing, but I feel like I can’t blog about anything else until I explain those 13 years, and the deeper time behind them where I didn’t really believe in myself. So, what have I been up to?
For a start, I changed career, moved to a different country, and had a family. But it’s more complicated than that. If I’d really wanted to, I’m sure I could have completed the book before then. The truth is, I’d become disillusioned and discouraged about the whole idea of writing.
I’ve written since I was very young, and had a certain amount of success, but I’ve never fully committed to it to the point of putting myself out there, marketing my work, and taking myself seriously. Writing was always just something I did as a kind of hobby, or for self-therapy. It was easier to hide it away than to take the risk that I would put it out into the world and people wouldn’t like it.
I wrote to get through break-ups. I wrote to understand my own feelings about my family. I wrote to try to recapture memories. I wrote because I always had this sadness that all of our experiences would be lost in time. I wrote simply to pass the time when I was bored in my job. My reasons for writing kept changing, but I kept doing it, and as the amount I’d written grew, paradoxically, it became harder to think about trying to publish any of it. When you’ve written 1 novel, you feel quite motivated to try to find the people who might want to read it. When you’ve written 4, you start to feel a little lost. It’s easier to just put them in a box and leave them in an attic, and start something new.
Another factor is that so much of what I write is quite strange. I’ve always puzzled over who would actually enjoy reading it. My mind runs to strange places, and I can be a little obscure, especially when I’m writing poetry. What I’m trying to do is put myself and the reader into an altered state of consciousness, where you simply respond to the images and stories and accept the effect they’re having on your subconscious mind. A lot of people have told me over the years that they like it. But how to market it? It all felt too scary, and it was easier not to think about it. Just carry on writing, and putting it in a box.
For a lot of these 13 years I was busy getting a new relationship to time. I read a lot of ancient literature and history, and investigated my family. 50 years no longer seemed like a long time. Even 1000 years started to seem relatively recent. The Romans used concrete. The Egyptians had batteries and electric lighting. Civilizations thousands of years before recorded history built huge cities that we’re only now starting to discover, drowned off the coasts of our continents at the end of the last Ice Age. Time became very deep to me.
Ford Madox Ford said something to the effect of, no one should write a novel until they are at least 40 years old. I wouldn’t put it that way, but there’s something true about it: I’m not the same person any more. Time has deepened me, and that’s another reason that it’s hard to go back to my writing and publish it. I’m no longer the same person who wrote that book 13 years ago. However, that way of thinking is a mistake. I might not be the same person, but the book is still the same book. Someone may like it.
In the end, the whole point of writing anything is so that someone else – even 1 other person – may find it and be changed by it. I’d be sad if I thought I would die without ever trying to share my writing with whoever out there will like it. It’s time!