A couple of weeks ago I stayed up way too late on a Friday night and watched the recent BBC remake of John Wyndham’s classic apocalypse novel the Day of the Triffids. If you don’t know it, basically everyone in the world goes blind and there are these mobile plants with a venomous sting going around eating people but the real horror is all the crappy things that the people do to one another. (It probably seemed more original in the 50’s).
It’s one of my favourite science fiction stories, so I was keen to see this latest version. It was, bluntly, a bit of a disappointment, promising much and wimping out, cleaving faithfully to some parts of the original work but veering away from others, and featuring killer plants too deeply rooted in misapplied CGI to convince. As I was watching, I was tweeting derisive commentary with a couple of mates and one said something that inspired a story.
Below the cut you will not find that story. I started writing that story but it wasn’t working. I really wanted to write something with triffids in it, so I started another story instead. What follows is the second story.
No, not really. What follows is what I typed over the past couple of weeks in search of the actual story. It’s a first draft. I think there’s a good story in it somewhere, but there are problems with calling this a story. The narrator lacks motivation, the structure is all wrong,the tense is all over the place, the tone is inconsistent and probably not suited to the story, the dialogue is weak and most of it is exposition and etc. It trails off at the end because I realised as I wrote it that I had started in the wrong place.
It kind of goes against the habit of a lifetime (it takes a long time to build habits this bad) to rewrite and edit – if there is one thing in life that drives me utterly batshit, it’s redoing work – but this story clearly needs it. Moreover I clearly need the practice. So I tender it here, in rough form, because I promised Emma and Craig that I would, but my plan is to rewrite from the ground up and present the story in what I think is its “real” shape. When that draft is done, I’ll post it here as well. Quite likely that won’t be the last version either, but we’ll see how close I get on draft two.
Feel free to comment or criticise (I know about the typo on page one though). I’m doing this as an exercise in building up editing muscles that were never all that strong and are now atrophied to the point of uselessness. I’m kind of interested to see how different the second draft will be (early betting is on “completely, except for the odd line here or there”). Oh, and the reason that I am putting it up here at all is that I have no intention of attempting to sell this story, even the final version. Even if there were a buyer out there, I wouldn’t feel right selling something with someone else’s creations in it without their (now unobtainable) consent. So this is just for me and – if you like – you.
So anyway, this should give some insight into why I never finish anything, and hopefully will be of some use to me later on as a reminder that when I lose momentum and start thinking about the next shiny thing, I should really persevere and work through the pain of rework.
Oh, and it’s not at all scary or NSFW. Which is probably another thing that’s wrong with it.