Ever have a day when you know what you need to do, you know the process, and how you’re going to get there, but you just can’t seem to do it?
That was this book.
I knew the plot. The characters. What was said, when it was said, and who got hurt because of it. All of it. But when I sat down to put it together my mind froze. I’m not even sure that I know why.
The idea for “The Camera” actually pre-dates “The Ring”, which is the first book in this series. When I first started writing it I didn’t really know where I was going with it though, just that a boy bought a camera that actually stored things within the film, and it was going to cause him some trouble.
I had “Needful Things” in mind when I started it. Or “Friday the 13th”, or “The Room”, or “Warehouse 13″… you take your pick. They all have one thing in common. Cursed items that seem to give you what you want, but come at a price. The camera didn’t give Anthony anything he needed or wanted, it just happened to do something unexpected.
So I had this story idea, and I thought it was a good idea, but it was born during my “stress induced writers block” years, so it never went anywhere.
I wrote “The Ring” years later. It was one of those stories that just flowed out onto the page, and I think that is why it is one of my better stories. It took about five hours to get the entire story written, but I wasn’t publishing when I wrote it. I didn’t even think about it when I first started publishing, and I’m glad I didn’t. If I had, I would have put it up as a stand alone story and “Illicit Gains” would not exist.
After “Flight of the Griffins” and “Twilight Tales” were out I did an audit of all the stories in my files, and found “The Ring”, and several other stories. I started grouping them together to form books, and noticed the five stories revolving around cursed items. It was too perfect. I went back and added some foreshadowing in “The Ring”, edited it, and published it.
I thought “The Camera” would be easy to finish. I had three-quarters of it already written, and already knew what happened in the middle. Easy. Right? WRONG!
Every time I sat down to write it something would just scream “wrong” at me. The plot wasn’t right, lets tweak it. This character isn’t right. Lets tweak him. This could be worded a LOT better, tweak. Tweak. Tweak some more.
The entire plot (beyond boy finds camera, boy discover camera does something weird, boy has a horrible thing happen because of camera) changed at least four times. At first there was a thief, then there was a bully, then there was… Well lets just say that I didn’t have the true plot until I started fleshing out the 5th book in the series, “Marco”.
Those of you keeping score, I’ll actually give you the titles of all five of the stories in this series:
“The Scarab Necklace”
“The Pocket Watch”
If you read “The Ring” you’ll know who Marco is. He ties the whole series together.
Pressing publish on “The Camera” was a huge weight off my shoulders. After three weeks of saying “it’s going to be out this weekend” I finally got to say “It’s OUT”. I was starting to wonder if it ever would be.
But, this is a good thing. It means I don’t want to put out just any old crap. I want to tell a good story. Maybe there’s a missing comma, or I screwed up a homonym, but the story itself, the characters, the plot and setting, I’m proud of that. I can go back and fix the typos and polish the grammar a bit. But I can’t retract a bad story. I don’t even want to put out a story I’m not proud to call mine.
Now, ten years down the road I fully expect to hate everything I wrote and want to rewrite it. But I’m going to resist the urge. I’ll definitely be hiring a pro-editor, when I can afford it, to re-edit everything, but I won’t be changing the core story. I will let it stand as a testament to my progress because I fully expect each story to be better than the last.