Echoes and Whispers

Posted: August 25, 2016 in Blog
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My father had one of the early Compaq computers.  I used to sit in his study, tapping away on it.  It had WordPerfect, so I had the laminated cheat sheet for all the function commands and such.  Quite a different and more laborious interface than what we have now, but it was still so much more thrilling to me than using the old typewriter.

I was writing a long story (a book in my mind) about a post-apocalyptic world where some big baddie had gotten hold of a nuclear weapon and was going to use it on what was left of civilization.  Some less than savory person had been commissioned by this remnant of order and sent into the worst of the wasteland to stop the evil plan.  Quite all cliché.  I didn’t finish it.

Instead, I found The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  I then read the other two (there were only the three at the time), and I was blown away.  I was changed.  It seemed such an exercise in imagination.  Incidentally, I never did develop a huge love of British comedy, but sometimes (as in this case), I loved it.  Such amazing stories, and on the off chance you have not read them, I highly recommend them.

I scrapped my post-apocalyptic tale and moved onto something else.  Something more imaginative.  I was cooking, writing out page after page in my spare time and when my dad wasn’t using his own computer.  I was driven!

My story, such as it was, had two main characters, one Adam Floyd and Eve Pink.  These two were going to somehow meet, being thrown together by the most absurd of fates, and then they’d go back in time to become the Adam & Eve of biblical lore (with an obvious sprinkling of my love for the band Pink Floyd).  There was also, for some reason, a quasi-sentient floating outboard boat engine that figured prominently.  At least I was aware enough that after writing many pages, I realized how derivative it was of Douglas Adams.  It was my homage and exercise, I suppose, and I did not finish it once I came to this revelation.

Some years later the same thing would happen when I got into H.P. Lovecraft, though those efforts were more my own.  They were also derivative, but they were firmly in the realm of my concept of Weird Fiction as opposed to the more egregious “borrowing” in my younger effort.

I think many artists learn to create this way.  You mimic other voices until you find your own, but you still hear those whispers and echoes from time to time.  It’s all part of the palette.

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