A lot of writers will tell you that they have on a shelf, or perhaps long ignored segment of their hard drive their first serious attempt at writing a book. One that ultimately will never see the light of day. My one was a fantasy piece which I abandoned when I finally admitted to myself that it basically wasn’t any good. I don’t regret the time spent on it because any attempt to write, is a learning experience. What I do regret a little is my ‘lost book’.
The Nameless War wasn’t the science fiction book I intended to write. The book I started maybe ten years ago on was set in the same universe, several decades earlier and would now be considered a prequel. There isn’t really anything wrote down for it since I didn’t go in much for formal planning at that stage. What I did have was a mental list of characters and the major events they were going to be involved in.
I got about fifty pages in. Then my computer Hard Drive bit the dust and no, I hadn’t remembered to back up. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid! I think there was a bit of a break before I returned to writing (I’m guessing I did a lot of swearing during that time). Once I got a new machine I didn’t try to recreate that which had been taken as sacrifice by the silicon gods.
Back then I was a member of the Fantasy and Science Fiction site Elfwood, it was never all that great for writers and I’ve long since deleted my profile but I was getting some useful feedback. Encouraged, I wrote a short story call the Mississippi Incident. It went down well and after a while I decided to carry on and see what the political and military consequences the story’s events would be. About a year later I had the first draft of the Nameless War.
I have occasionally wondered whether I’ll ever go back to the prequel and try again but I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that the answer is no and it would be a mistake to even try.
Which is far from saying it was a wasted exercise. The characters of Admirals Lewis, Brian and Wingate were born for that book, as were the venerable Hood, Dauntless and the Vampire fighter. Having a history for the universe which went back decades really helped me add depth. So I guess by a round about route what I am saying is while ideas can and at time should be abandoned, any attempt to create even an abortive one can be useful. With ideas going beyond the story or world they were originally intended for.