A little over ten years ago, my friends and I began a collaborative fiction project that we named “The Fanfic”, though it bore little resemblance to fanfiction as it is commonly known. Rather, it was something like a ‘fanfic’ of our own invented characters, thrown together in a neutral setting.
Over time, like most poorly-thought-out teenage ideas, it fell by the wayside – it was simply too difficult to manage, and too difficult to get the writers to write to any kind of schedule.
After that was abandoned, I took on the characters and the setting that had developed, and they became the first inklings of a computer roleplaying game to be called “Dragon’s Claw”. But back then I had precious few of the skills required to create a game, so that one sunk under the weight of practical realities too.
It was reborn once more in around 2002, when I figured that I should go the one route that didn’t involve perstering other writers or learning to write a game – making it a book instead. Under the new title of “Dreaming Awake”, the characters and settings developed much more fully. But again, there it stopped.
Why did it stop, and why am I now declaring it to have, in all likelihood, stopped for good?
Though I love the setting – I have explored it in many short stories and even shorter biographies for some of the original characters – it’s the other characters that I have difficulty with. I don’t mean to belittle the effort my friends put into defining their characters in the early days, of course, but writing about them feels somehow wrong. It’s the same reason I don’t write fanfiction (unless extremely drunk); it’s just so strange to write for characters that are fundamentally not my own.
And therein lies the second problem. One of the characters that has stuck around from the early days of the project is very much my own: Tsuki. As a humble farmboy who nevertheless has Ultimate Cosmic Power sealed away inside him, reading TV Tropes’ “Marty Stu” page is like reading the kid’s life story. And though I love him dearly as a character, I just can’t write about him with a straight face now I’m not 17 years old.
So, all in all, I think it’s probably high time I stopped pretending that “Dreaming Awake” will ever be a novel in its own right. I have written plenty of short stories set in its world, and doubtless I’ll write many more. But as a story itself, it’s too firmly wedded to characters I can no longer write for.