Hi. My name is Lee. I started writing this novel for NaNoWriMo… wait, where are you going? Hold on just one minute, you paid your two bits for this book (unless you DL’d it from a torrent, in which case, it’s your bandwidth, not mine, brother), so why not give me at least a moment or two to convince you it’s worth reading first?
Right, that’s better.
Now, as I was saying, this novel began life as a mad improvisation I started spewing out for The Writing Challenge That Must Not Be Named, said challenge for which I succeeded in meeting three years in a row… and yet failed at the same time.
Have I got your attention now?
You see, I did write in excess of 50K each November for three years in a row, and received my little virtual certificate each time. But I did it by writing three successive Acts to the same novel. In fact, if I’d stuck to the formula, I would have waited one more year to complete it in November of 2010. But the thing was, even though I’d eventually fleshed out a fairly sturdy skeletal outline to guide me through the miles of bad road that formed the spine of my story, I didn’t think I could keep up the intensity and urgency of the original story in my head for one more year without losing something essential.
So on December 1st of 2009, after cranking out roughly one hundred thousand words on the third act of the novel, I started writing the last sixty thousand words of what would prove to be the longest novel I’ve yet written. I hadn’t set out to do so, but it had taken me over two-hundred-and-sixty-thousand words to attempt to answer the unasked question that had dogged me most of my adult life and inspired me to start writing this novel in early November of 2007: Why Do I Do These Things?
By things, I mean, the unbelievable string of follies I’ve committed in the name of Truth, Beauty and Love. Ooo, that sounds all poetic and stuff, didn’t it? Well, it’s crap. I may be able to gild the lily now that I’ve reached forty years of age and basically blown all of the hard deadlines I’d set for myself. I’ve had to learn to laugh.
The protagonist of this novel, the hapless Richard Burley, lives through a funhouse mirror reflection of a number of events and near-events I myself had to live through or circumnavigate. I refuse to call it an autobiography, however, although there are mountains of truths and half-truths littered throughout the landscape of this novel. The story is entirely fictional, though it draws heavily on my life for verisimilitude.
Friends and loved ones may see distorted reflections of themselves in the characters who graced the stage this story takes place on. If you happen to be a friend of mine, I encourage you NOT to try to find yourself in these pages. Just read the book and know that, whether you made it into this book or not, I love you, and doubtless would have included you if time and space had allowed, and if I hadn’t thought that your part would have been too small to do you justice. The few of you who did get lots of dialogue and such, all I can say is, I’m sorry, and I promise, I’ll never do that again.
Okay, I think I’ve given you a taste of what you’re in for, but there are a few caveats I should deliver, in case you haven’t found this book by the recommendation of a friend or loved one who knew you would enjoy it.
First of all, Richard is not me. He just looks and acts a lot like me. The resemblance is uncanny. Nevertheless, trust me, we’re not the same guy.
Second, this story takes place in New York City, from whence my wife cometh, but I personally have never lived there. This story, and several I’m still percolating in my head, are part of what I gently refer to as Daydreams of New York City. My method for accurately setting this story in an actual city I’ve only visited twice to date is extraordinarily dodgy and dull, so I won’t share it here. However, if it helps, try to remember this simple fact: Richard’s NYC is not necessarily the NYC you may be familiar with, even if most of the street names and a number of the buildings are right where I say they are (or at lest were at the time of writing). Research was done, but it’s more an Impressionist’s tour guide than a travelogue. Please save your critiques for the other stuff. Setting is the least of your worries.
Third, this novel is NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. It might not even be suitable for some adults. There is swearing and nudity and a great deal of (graphic, sometimes highly inappropriate) sex and (soft) drugs and (progressive) rock & roll, as well as psychosis and moral ambiguity and (fictional) violence, and quite a lot of distracting subplot, in the form of scripts and songs and stories being written by our protagonist and his friends. There is a central plot to this novel, but I assure you, you’ll have to be patient—and very understanding—to get to the conclusion in one piece.
Fourth, this book does not knowingly borrow or steal from anyone other than myself. I don’t even quote other writers or musicians, preferring to describe or inference them without a direct quote. This isn’t because I’m too cheap, although money is scarce here in Limbo; it’s because I suck at quotes and generally don’t enjoy epigraphs. Use them if you must, but I’d prefer you don’t flaunt them too brazenly; Nothing suggests intellectual dilettantism more than borrowing a frock coat from the wardrobe of a great author to prop up your own writing.
If any of the stories sound somewhat familiar, I can only give you my word that outright theft was not my intent. I did borrow quite a few tropes for the more obviously derivative ideas, but I tried to keep the references vague and free of any overt attempts to capitalise on another author’s hard-won success. For anything that arguably coasts too near to familiar shores, I’m playing the homage card.
And if any of the more throwaway ideas in this novel sound like something you have ever dreamed of writing about, well, take it as an assurance that your idea isn’t completely unworthy; I liked the idea enough to suggest it, so that’s at least one more person on your side. Write it, and then drop me a note so I’ll know where to find a copy. I myself have thought many times over the last few years that it would be nice if some of the novel concepts I throw about recklessly in these pages were actually made into real novels… that I don’t have to write myself.
Well, I think that’s enough for now. Hope you’re still intrigued enough to read the book. If not, I at least hope you’ve thought of someone you know who might want to give it a try. And if you want to talk with me about things this novel presented that gave you cause for concern, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include RE: Terminal Monday the subject line). I can’t promise I’ll answer every email—and I certainly WON’T waste any time on Trolls—but I’ll certainly discuss anything you might have had trouble with… at least until a FAQ becomes necessary.
Thank you for reading. And if you did buy the novel, thank you for that, too. If not, I can wait as long as you can. 😉
Lee Edward McIlmoyle,
Somewhere in Limbo,
Late in the evening sipping Tree Snot Tea and listening to Bowie sing China Girl,
Thursday, October 13th, 2011
This is what I’m working on right now, despite needing to work on Infinite Redress first. It’s nice having options.