Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MUSE OF DEVASTATION

Cyberdyne Systems was responsible for a lot of heinous things, including a self-aware computer with an urge to eradicate the human race. You may have heard of its most devious agents, the Terminators. I bring this up because, according to Terminator lore, at 8:11 PM TODAY, Skynet will begin its attack against humanity.

Sadly, this is almost all Cyberdyne will be remembered for. And, while it is not as momentous a thing, Cyberdyne Systems is also responsible for me being a writer (this could also, I suppose, be considered an attempt to eradicate the human race... not that that's my goal, I swear!).

When I saw The Terminator in 1984, two things happened immediately. First, I fell hopelessly in love with Kyle Reese. Upon recovery, some months later, I began to write my first novel. It would now probably be considered fan fiction. I was so utterly enthralled with the post-apocalyptic world hinted at in that movie that I had to see more of it. Since James Cameron and Orion Pictures did not seem to share my all-encompassing and IMMEDIATE passion for all things Future, I decided to write it myself.

I remember the novel including a lot of dangerous patrols and German Shepherds. There were also a lot of amputated limbs replaced with prosthetics that all the refugees were slightly suspicious of. If I still had a floppy disk drive, and inserted the THREE disks I filled with my Terminator stories, the amputations would probably number in the hundreds. Why, I don't know. It was a theme of some sort.

Was this appropriate fiction for a seven year old girl to be writing?

YES. It was exactly what I needed to write. I could smell the burning metal, feel the adrenaline-soaked fear of my foot soldiers, and hear the sound of high-pitched barking echoing off the endless hallways where my civilization clung to life. With every Terminator we destroyed, my imagination grew. With every conflict between soldiers (there seemed to be a lot of animosity over who got the "good" MREs), I learned a little something about creating complex characters.

I lived in that world for months, so thoroughly woven into it that, when we had five minutes of free time at the end of class, I would lose myself in writing it. My teacher would have to come over and shake my shoulder, ten minutes after the bell rang and everyone else had slammed their desks closed and filtered out of class, to send me home. Good thing I walked.

A year later, I discovered Ann McCaffrey, and my metal drones were replaced with dragons and dragonriders. I poured my expanded world onto SIX floppies on that obsession.

Now, I create my own worlds. Yes, they have facets of the scenes and characters I have seen along the way. They also, now that I'm not seven, include chunks of my own successes, humiliations and heartbreaks.

So raise a glass, dear readers, and join me in toasting Cyberdyne Systems. And tell me, what dragged you into writing? Something as sinister, or something sweeter?

10 comments:

  1. Wow, really? Today was the day? What a great piece of trivia! And here I thought I was a Terminator franchise expert. Go figure.

    I didn't have the writing epiphany you had upon seeing the film. Instead, I longed for a perfect body like Sara Connor had. Oh wait.. that was the second movie! Jeesh...

    Anyway... to answer your very thought provoking question: I have no idea what lured me into writing. It just seems like I always... had to. Or I just always was. Like breathing, you know? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was painfully shy and so wasn't always off with the girls... or the guys.

    Hey, I had to entertain myself somehow. Hmm... I smell a blog post of my own coming on...

    Thanks, I really enjoyed this article. It brought back great movie memories and made me think... about my own writing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sarah Connor in T2 was a work of art. That is all

    Writing has become as necessary as sleeping, to me. Sometimes it is more necessary. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. *raises glass to Cyberdyne*

    And yes, the T2 Sarah Conner was a force of nature.

    Oh, and this, ". . .there seemed to be a lot of animosity over who got the "good" MREs" is hilarious because it is so true.

    As for your question, I'd toyed with the idea of writing, but it wasn't until a friend told me to "just go ahead and write something" that I tried my hand at it. Funny how sometimes it's the small things, like a movie or gentle nudge, that are the biggest catalysts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love how the 'old' movies set soooo far in the future are 'happening' (yet not in the least bit). Back to The Future was one of those which in 2010 was supposed to be set that year.

    As for my muse? She just popped up one day. I can't attribute her to any movies, books ... anything but pure boredom because thanks to the economy, my small biz was slowing down. So I had ... time. Time and I don't play well together, so I decided to fill time. :) That became book one, neatly tucked away in File 13. :)

    Gotta love ispiration though. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Cobra - That reminds me of Kevin Smith's catalyst. He kept telling his sister he wanted to be a filmmaker and she said: don't want to be a filmmaker...BE a filmmaker. (paraphrasing here)

    I know, Aimee! And think of 2001 A Space Odyssey - that "future" happened a DECADE ago. I understand the issue with time. Time and I play a cat and mouse game, alternating roles as the pursuer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hum, I have a whole blog post on it, but I'll try to be short. I needed to entertain myself, and I started reading, but that wasn't enough. To jump to writing all I needed was a spiral notebook and a pencil. I was seven or eight, I can't recall. Since then I've been walking the writer's road with baby steps. Now I'm aiming to be a marathoner. Let's see if I ever get there! :)
    P.S. Terminator? I'd never imagine. But it's understandable, at this age we're very susceptible, and writing it was a great way to work it out.
    Thanks for sharing this :)
    - EEV

    ReplyDelete
  7. Seven?!?! Holy cow. I was writing about Puff and Dick and Jane at seven...and not very well, either.

    Actually speaking of time, I just drafted my blog chain piece this weekend and in it I pondered how once upon a time, surviving the rollover to 2000 seem THE event of a lifetime. It seems almost silly now (though probably not so silly to the people who defused all the bombs before they launched that the public never knew about, of course, the same people who yesterday stopped Microsoft from launching its World Domination Vista program yesterday that would have done what Cyberdyne failed at. LOL)

    (Actually this is my second time writing this piece, since Cyber-space ate my first attempt and I hadn't Ctl-C'd it before hitting send.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. EEV - Entertainment is my fundamental story driver as well. And, while I don't think I was scarred by my Terminator obsession, I will say that my tendency to blow things up in my fiction may have its roots in that movie.

    Claire - I also wrote quite a number of short stories from the point of view of horses. So, you know, I wasn't operating entirely outside of standard age perameters. Also, it's possible I thought I _was_ a horse on occasion.

    Oh yeah, I remember the Y2K "threat". Dear Gods, the lack of digits will end us all...oh, the humanity! Wait...

    Are you sure Cyber-space ate it? Not Skynet??? (This is how it begins. First, random blog post sniping. Next, the entire species!)

    ReplyDelete
  9. For me, it was only a short jump from reading to writing. I think I was about five when it hit me. If I didn't like how a story ended, I rewrote it. There, guaranteed reader satisfaction!

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's it EXACTLY, Jen. Did the story end to soon? If you're a writer, you can fix that! Did the twist break your heart or leave you feeling "meh"...taken care of. Didn't like the MC, but loved that quirky neighbor? Let's see what he's doing with the rest of his life. :D

    ReplyDelete