Saturday, December 31, 2005

And Lo, There Shall Come an Unveiling

Last night I got an email confirming that The Obsession Formerly Known as Primary (or TOFKAP, if you will) has, indeed, been delivered to its target; his wife intercepted the email, had it printed and bound, and put it with the presents to be opened on Christmas morning. They're both currently in the process of reading it, and so, optimist that I am, I'm currently bracing myself for the "Dude, seriously, all that fuss over this?" feedback. I'm still not quite ready to post it all online for the whole world to see, but soon, very soon.

Until then, read the Forward and finally learn the truth behind TOFKAP.

The Title Is Flunkrow’s; the Concept Is Mine: A Forward

For quite some time my best friend has had in mind what he thinks would be an excellent title for a book . . . The only problem is that he has no idea what the story should be about; whether it should be Sci Fi or Fantasy, Horror or Romance, he hasn't a clue.

So began an essay I wrote my Sophomore year of college entitled Of Prisms and Plotlines, where I used my best friend Flunky’s plot-less title as a springboard for ruminations on my plot-less life. This essay was one of my favorite pieces of writing from that time period, and I go back and re-read it periodically; every time I do, I see that opening paragraph and think “Man, I really need to write that Cabin in the Woods thing.”

You see, when Flunky first told me of his title idea, I, being the sort of person I am (i.e. a total geek), immediately struck upon the brilliant idea of writing a short story with the title and giving it to him as a surprise. The biggest stumbling block was that I was as lost when it came to finding a suitable plot as Flunky was. So the idea soon fell off my mental radar, only to pop up now and again as I periodically reviewed my old writings.

Fast-forward about 10 years, to November of 2005. One evening Flunky and I were chatting on IM, a conversation about my blog leading into one of his periodic “when are you going to get off your ass and start writing for a living” questions, which lead into a discussion of fiction in general. He outlined an idea he had for a fantasy series, ending with the comment, “Not much to go on, but I expect a novel on my desk in two weeks. Now get on it.” After my sardonic response of “Yes, oh great and powerful leader,” he added “Don't forget the title should be In a Cabin In The Woods.” I assured him that that title had been burned into my memory long ago. Our conversation then ranged onto other things, and the reminder of his plot-less title would fade into the background of my mind for a few more days, before boiling back up to the surface with a vengeance that weekend.

There I was that lazy Saturday morning, lying in bed, mind in that weird half-asleep/half-awake state where random thoughts flourish; I had been thinking about doing a blog-post about a college experience at a friend’s cabin, and I realized I could entitle the post “In a Cabin in the Woods.” Pleased by the idea, my mind kept working: instead of a post about the incident, why not fictionalize it, and that way I’d finally have that short story? “But wait,” another part of my mind cried out, “what about the Elemental characters? They’re kind of inspired by Flunky and the others, wouldn’t that be more fitting?” And then a third part spoke up “Hey, I thought we always agreed it would be a horror story?” And then a fourth part spoke up. And a fifth. And with that magic number 5 (Flunky’s lucky number, and a story in and of itself), I knew with a flash of blinding insight (that quickly turned into a burning obsession) what I had to do: write five different short stories, each a different genre, each set in a cabin in the woods, and send them to him for Christmas, which was a little over a month away.

Amazing what odd things pop into your head when you’re barely awake, huh?

And yet, even after I was fully awake the idea would not let go of me, and I knew that I had to see it through. So now here we are, a little over a month and around 65,000 words later: what started out as an idea for a kind-of cool (in a geeky sort of way) gift for my best friend became a chance for me to do something I’d never done before: follow an idea for a writing project all the way through to its conclusion. It’s completely different from what I originally envisioned, which is both good and bad, depending on your point of view. It’s also much, much, much longer than I had imagined: trust me, writing a 100 page manifesto was not the original plan.

So, there you go, Flunky, I finally got off my ass and wrote something, and I even used your title. Now, get off my back.

Oh, and thanks for the push: I needed it.


coronela said...

is some of this inspired by the tol's cabin incident? i was wondering if that's the cabin to which you were referring?

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Yes, the evening at Tol's cabin did inspire part of this, but only very, very loosely, as the story that got its genesis from that idea ranged into much more . . . horrific areas.

Flunky lover said...

When I was reading that part I was wondering if you derived inspiration from that. I wasn't a part of that trip but I was familiar with it for some reason.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

I'm guessing that your familiarity comes from the fact that, after the events at the cabin, every girl who did go along refused to talk to every guy who went along, with one of them practically locking herself away in her room for a day or two.

Good times, good times.