Here’s a thing I pulled out of storage the other day. The deck of index cards that comprises most of the existing notes on The Drowning City, my long-gestating work of trans metaphor urban fantasy. I’d had a few notes in Evernote; some of the whiter cards are ones I transcribed those notes onto yesterday and the day before. Some of the others are new ideas that came out of seeing how these new ideas meshed with older parts I’d forgotten about.
I put this deck together not too long after I arrived in Boston, with all my possessions lost to Katrina. I wanted to dredge up as much of this story as I could. Put it down on paper again before it was lost along with all the sketchbooks it was scattered throughout. I got down the bare bones of the plot; I got down all of the various incidents I’d come up with. I even started to flesh it out into something I could use to draw the comic from – some of the early chapters are fairly defined.
But it still wasn’t ready. Still was missing something. And I also knew I still didn’t have the comics-making chops to make it what it needed to be. So it went on the shelf and I proposed a collaboration with Nick. Which went fairly well for a chapter. Then the Tarot deck, then the move to Seattle, then the breakup, then the need to do comics again. I thought of trying to do this as my first solo project, but it was still missing something, and I wanted to do something more upbeat to pull me out of the emotional funk of a breakup – this story is pretty relentlessly dark.
I’ve been learning a lot by doing Rita. And a few ideas came to me for this story that I think really filled in the missing parts of the core. There’s still outer details to work out – stuff involving Sidhé conspiracies and courtly intrigues, stuff involving unlikely romances – but the bones, ah, the bones. The bones are there, polished and ready to be built upon.
My plan is to try and write the first draft of a script for the whole story during Nanowrimo. Yeah, I’ll be cheating – NNWM is supposed to be from scratch, as I understand it. But I don’t care. This thing’s been brewing inside me for about fifteen years, and it’s time to make ready to let it out. I intend to work on this and Absinthe in parallel once I’m done with Rita. And if Absinthe finishes before Drowning City is done, there will be some other light-hearted story to break up the gloom.
Some parts of the story I’ve talked about, here and there. The woman turning into a monster. The elves invading her city, the Hero whose story she’s a minor character in, the resolutely unmagical sword who moves between the elves, the Hero, and our monster. The endless rain, the blackouts. Other things I haven’t spoken about yet. The Black Dog who follows her and his ultimate significance. The reason she’s becoming a monster. The ways the elves toy with her.
I dunno. I’m still not entirely sure I’m ready to start pounding this pile of angst and fantasy into a shape. But I don’t think I’ll ever be much more ready.