Monday, 20 January 2014

Good Times to be in Interzone

I began this as a post about how great it is to have a story, Bad Times to be in the Wrong Place, in the just-out January issue of Interzone - Interzone #250 no less, a hell of a landmark to be associated with.  And while all the gushing was undoubtedly justified, I realised by the time I'd got half way through that it was also superfluous: everyone knows Interzone is fantastic, the great mainstay of British genre publishing, and I'm sure most people who read this will have a fair idea of how buzzed I was to land a story in there.

So let's leave it at that and talk about something else: something perhaps slightly contentious and certainly a little embarrassing.   

Bad Times to be in the Wrong Place started life as a dream.

Way back when, I used to think that there was nothing more pretentious and flat-out ridiculous than a writer saying they'd written something based on a dream.  It was like claiming your stories were based on crystals and unicorns, or crystal unicorns - although if I ever met a crystal unicorn it's a safe bet I'd want to write a story about it, and maybe even pen its biography, so that's perhaps a poor example.  But come on!  Dreams!  Really...

Thus you can imagine how shocked and disgusted I was when I had a dream that was so damn weird and narrative and really kind of interesting that I couldn't stop thinking about it.  In fact, that's already a fib; I knew from the moment I woke up trying to remember and unravel it that I wanted to try and turn it into a story.

But perhaps that's the important bit, that turn into ... because in and of itself the dream was, like all dreams, utter bollocks.  Once I'd picked it apart, it became obvious that there were just a few elements I could salvage, the basics of a couple of characters, the core of an idea, that kind of thing.  Because, and I've learned this since, dreams can be great for throwing up bits of stories, little sparks and glimmers of weirdness.  This has only grown truer as I write more and more, and I think that's because the part of my brain that's always on the look out for ideas it can twist into stories doesn't get turned off that much anymore.  But in and of themselves, dreams are nonsense.  They try and tell you things that don't make a speck of sense are thrillingly coherent.  And, if you're anything like me, they repeatedly try to convince you that you can run along walls like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and then leave you to wake to the heartbreaking knowledge that you can't and probably will never be able to.  Dreams, in short, are rubbish.

So if anyone ever tells you they write their dreams then slap them, they're almost certainly a hippy and probably dosed to the gills with illegal hallucinogens and there's a fair chance they'll be writing stories based on the chinking of their wind chimes next.  But if someone tells you they've written a story that incorporates bits and pieces of a dream they had one time then maybe cut them some slack.  If only because that poor soul is probably me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gods...amazeballs!!!! I will be buying this, maybe even tomorrow! Forbidden Planet yeah?