June 9, 2016

Frightening off the aliens

A READER who signs himself “Still Waiting” wants to know if my friend ever finished the science fiction novel he was writing. I’m afraid not. That was about six years ago, and he hasn’t added a word to it since. He says it’s writer’s block, but I think it’s woman trouble. You can’t write science fiction if you’re having woman trouble.

But never mind that. He says you can claim the beginning and finish it yourself if you want. Anyone is welcome to give it a go. So here it is once again:

In the opening chapter, aliens in a low-flying spacecraft spot a yacht at sea.

“What is it?” asks 1!@#.

“I don’t know,” says 2$%^. “But it has life. It flies. It swims.”

“It is a bird – it has wings in the air.”

“But it does not fly. It must be a fish — it has fins in the water.”

“But it does not dive,” 1!@# points out.

“Look, it has two large parasites. They have four limbs each. One is in its stomach, devouring something,” says 2$%^. “Another is outside and torturing it by pulling hard on its wings with strong winches. Now he twists its back fin with a large wheel.”

“Don’t get too close,” warns 1!@#. “Those parasites look dangerous to me.”

“Me, too,” says 2$%^. “We’re outta here.”

Well, it’s quite a promising start, I think, though I find those alien names a little difficult to pronounce. I would be interested to see how somebody develops the theme. I think maybe my friend was going to blame yachtsmen for Earthlings’ lack of contact with aliens, but I’m not sure. Like most writers, he didn’t care to talk about where he was going with this book, mostly because he didn’t know.

He was actually going to write a factual book called In the Wake of Ulysses but he was a little slow. He woke up too late, and that great sailor Hal Roth beat him to it with We Followed Odysseus. So he decided to write fiction instead, reckoning that nobody could beat him to that.

Anyway, what with woman trouble and all, he got stuck. Permanently, it seems. He did what writers always do: he stared at the computer screen and waited for inspiration.

Been there, done that. Do that regularly, in fact. It’s hell, but somebody has to do it.

Today’s Thought
Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, between it and true art.
— Truman Capote

“I hear your new car was recalled by the dealer.”
“Yeah, there was a defect in my bank account.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for another  Mainly about Boats column.)


Mike K said...

Jeez, all it needs is a catchy opening line. How about "It was a dark and stormy night?" Always seemed to work for Snoopy.

John Vigor said...

Yes, it's a great opening, Mike. Only trouble is, Snoopy never got any further.
John V.

Scott F said...

Disagree, the next line is 'Suddenly a shot rang out."

John Vigor said...

Oh heck yes, Scott, that's right. Maybe we should ask Snoopy to finish off this book.
John V.