Several years ago, when I first decided that I wanted to write for a living, I set out enthusiastically devising some very far-fetched new ideas. At that time, my science-fiction obsession was blossoming, allowing my delusions of grandeur to flourish to such an extent that my central idea was one with 20 series’ worth of episode titles on a Word document. It’s possible that the file is still there somewhere on our PC, setting out the entire history of a TV show 12-year-old me was certain could run for decades. To start with, it simply told the story of a group of galactic explorers on your average starship. Of course, I didn’t have the benefits of a large professional production setup and budget, so I decided that – because I’d done some stop-motion animation in the ICT room at lunchtimes – it couldn’t be that hard to sculpt and film an entire galaxy with a few balls of plasticine. Everything else would be taken care of when I came to it. Sorted.
You can probably tell that there may have been more than a few flaws in this plan, the main ones being that I didn’t own a camera or have any outside help, and not a word of script had been written. In addition to this, I was having trouble making the idea itself different, having realised that the bare bones of it bore a striking resemblance to something less plasticine-y and far more famous called Star Trek. I therefore immediately tried to turn my mind to anything space-related that could possibly save the sinking ship. I thought of everything. Robotic zombies, a weird afterlife for those who got too close to the sun – and then I thought of black holes. Nothing can escape them, not even light, and when you are sucked in, that’s the end. You’re crushed, destroyed, and there’s nothing left. It was with that in mind that I thought a black hole could make a good antagonist for the ship and crew. They’d be sucked in and presumed lost forever, when in actual fact they were alive and well, and in contact with everything and everyone now forging a new path within a hidden pocket universe. As I write it now in retrospect, it doesn’t look all that bad, but I doubt it’ll be something I ever use. I remember that it was just causing me to hit brick wall after brick wall. I had this whole separate universe, but where were its limits? Who and what would be there? I tried thinking about it, but it wasn’t long before I realised I just did not have the answer, and when I think about it that might have been the first time I realised I shouldn’t force my writing.
For some unknown reason, I titled that ill-fated idea The Devil’s Inferno. That has since become a rather lengthy byword in my mind for all of the other bad ideas I’ve had. When it comes into my head, I know that I should drop what I’m working on, and if I’m itching to write something, I know that it is something I should aim to avoid for that reason. If I don’t follow this advice, I generally feel drained of all creative inspiration, almost like I’m sitting in a black hole.