Bear with me, this will take a while.
I started writing when I was pretty young, something like nine years old or something. Obviously, I’m using the term ‘write’ loosely, I didn’t spit out contemplative novels left and right, duh. I read books - from Russian localization of the Wizard of Oz to sci-fi by Stanislav Lem or Ray Bradbury. The stories that I liked inspired me to sit down and try and write something similar. It was fun, I tried it for a while and then kind of stopped.
It was only later, when I became an angsty teen - that I got back to writing. I was angry at so many things, I felt an overwhelming amount of emotions ranging from love to ire, contempt and disgust. And I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone about that. Because you know what kids are like - touching and empathic, but also know everything about the world and never forgive a weakness. So instead I wrote down everything I was feeling in a short story format, never intending to share it. That must’ve happened during summer, because I distinctly remember school starting a month later, us getting an assignment where we needed to write a thing, me feeling lazy and just handing in that story I wrote and getting the highest grade I have ever gotten. Huh.
So I continued. And being a shy fourteen-or-something-year-old with confidence issues - there was always plenty to write about. Probably cheaper than seeing a shrink too. Some people seemed to like my stories, so I would sometimes read them to the people in the room at parties; or come over to see a friend and his partner and end up reading to them all evening; or - my favorite - sit on a balcony, just you and the person you like, cheap wine in your glasses, a smoking cigarette between your fingers and another one between hers, a big fat moon in the sky and a yellow sodium light street lamp illuminating your pages as you’re reading the stuff of your brains. And, contrary to what that might feel like, I don’t think I’ve ever done this for romantic reasons, take my word - most of what I wrote was as far away from being romantic as you could get. But it was a way to let a person in and tell them about the things that make me tick, a way to get rid of all the stuff that I pretended to be, to expose myself as I was. I guess, it never was easy to just open up without that implied safety net of ‘haha, no, that’s not about me it’s a fictional story’. And that moment, when I trusted the other person enough to tell them about my insecurities, when I sat there - calm, reading, but really exploding on the inside - that was beautiful.
Writing was an exploration of self, if you will, and making the stories as dark as I could allowed me to be this mostly cheerful weirdo in the ‘real world’. The stories, though, weren’t that great, and, boy, were they dark, so in the end, I think, very select few continued enjoying what I wrote. And, like, if you’re thinking family - nope, they bailed out at the first sign of a corpse. So, I think, then there was the point when I realized that, probably, I should get back to writing for myself, to myself. And tried writing a novel. Then another one. The problem was that, I think, both of them had very little story, and the characters never really developed, instead choosing to dwell on who they are and explore the different sides of themselves, without ever actually lifting their ass and doing anything. Very unintentionally Chekhov-like (Chekhovian?).
Of course I tried to get my stuff published. Didn’t. So in the end self-published a book of short stories and ended up filling a third of my room with a thousand of those motherfuckers, thinking: ‘What the hell am I going to do with this now?’. And then half a year later or so, I meticulously put those books into boxes and took them to the dump. There might be one or two left.
Somehow over the years the need to write slowly dissipated, leaving behind this vague idea - wouldn’t it be awesome as a nod to all those years of considering myself a misunderstood auteur to actually write one last book that has a proper story, that is well written, and strange, and dark? And the idea stuck. I moved to UK and felt elated for the longest time ever, because I finally was where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do, on my way to fulfilling my dreams. And then I graduated and got a job at IBM, the logical next question was - ‘Ok, now what?’. Then I remembered.
So here’s the news I wanted to share:
- I started ‘Dream City’ on the 17/02/2015
- As of yesterday it consists of 2 finished parts (out of 3 planned).
- Or 33 chapters.
- Or 92 A4 pages of text, size 12.
- Or 48,321 words.
- Or 268,380 characters.
Which makes it the biggest thing I’ve ever written in English, and the most planned piece of writing, story-wise, that I’ve done.