Monday, September 12, 2016

I'm trying to put an end to my history of writing a piece of fiction and never finishing it

I'm too busy working on a manuscript for a prose novel right now to post any new material for the AFOS blog. I've discovered that it takes me an entire week to finish writing each chapter in this manuscript. The novel is currently intended to consist of 31 chapters, so if I continue at this one-chapter-a-week pace without ever stopping, I'll be done with the manuscript by the end of February 2017.

That means I have no time to write any new blog posts for the AFOS blog for the rest of the year. I'm so committed to finishing this thing (and then shopping it around) that I don't allow myself to watch a new episode of Mr. Robot until I'm done writing an entire chapter.

"The Pet" was an unfinished Filipino monster story I've mentioned in great detail on this blog. Filipino monster folklore definitely needs more shine, and I was hoping "The Pet" would help out in bringing some more exposure to Filipino monster stories. It's not the first story I've tried to write and ended up failing to finish due to writer's block.

In high school, I wrote an unfinished novel called Jasper, about a Filipino teen who kills a racist bully and runs away. I never was able to reach the killing-the-bully-and-running-away part of the story, which was disappointing because the greatest thing about fiction writing is that you can murder people who are assholes without getting thrown in jail. Despite the novel being unfinished (and also being rather aimless and not very good by my standards today), I allowed its completed chapters to be used as part of the syllabus in a Filipino American lit course one of my older brother's friends presided over at UC Santa Cruz in 1993. It was interesting to later see the Robert Duvall movie The Apostle echo the plot of Jasper with its story of a preacher who kills his wife's lover and escapes to another town to start over and continue with his preaching.

Then I tried to write a screenplay for a time-travel comedy called Timegroove back when I reluctantly worked in the tech industry, but I was never satisfied with the dialogue. Also, the original Life on Mars was doing wonderful things with the "modern-day cop trapped in the '70s" premise, so why fucking bother? Life on Mars was immensely better than much of what I had in mind for Timegroove.

The Timegroove plot had an Asian American cop chasing an escaped criminal who hijacked an Indian inventor's record player-inspired time machine and hid out in the '70s, and the protagonist had to put up with worse forms of racism than the forms of racism he encountered in the present day. His '70s female love interest was an Asian American undercover cop named Lotus Blossom, whose name was a reference to a really cheesy slow jam of the same name by the band War, and his '70s partner was a black cop named Stroke Johnson.

In the '70s, the protagonist also encountered a younger version of the time machine's inventor and turned to him for help to get back to the present, and the inventor dressed exactly the same as his older self. The Timegroove script never went past the first couple of scenes.

Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong crime flick that was remade as The Departed, or rather, The De-pah-ted (Photo source: DVD Beaver)

Finally, there was a 2010 webcomic script called The Palace: Continuous Hell. It was about a movie theater worker who, after work, is forced to wait in a never-ending line outside a nightclub, while her theater co-workers go insane as they sit through a staff-only advance screening of a new and totally unnecessary Infernal Affairs sequel from Hong Kong because the movie never actually begins. A lot of modern-day Hong Kong movies kick off with 800 different movie studio logos, but this fictional Infernal Affairs sequel opens with 800,000 of them.

I wrote Continuous Hell before Family Guy, a show I greatly dislike, riffed in 2011 on movies that open with too many production company logos. Continuous Hell had a great webcomic title too: it referenced a line from the original Infernal Affairs ("The worst of the eight hells is called Continuous Hell. It has the meaning of Continuous Suffering"), and I especially like how the words "Continuous Hell" can easily be sung to the tune of "Promiscuous" by Nelly Furtado and Timbaland ("Continuous Hell, whatever you are...").

Unlike the other unfinished stories, I actually completed writing the Continuous Hell script, but I never took the script to the drawing stage because I retired from trying to draw webcomics by then. They're fucking hard to draw.

The likelihood of me finishing my current manuscript is higher than the likelihood of me ever drawing a webcomic again. It's time to finally break the cycle.

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