Why Unbound, the Series?
First, a little background.
This story began as a series of disconnected scenes revolving around the same set of characters, written by hand on notebook paper. It was the mid-90s. I worked in a bar, and pretty much hated my life. Mentally following these characters’s adventures, their loves, their hates, their defeats, and their victories gave me the courage and fortitude I needed to face my life—a life I’d fallen into unplanned, and was very much coming to regret. When that life took a serious turn for the worse in the summer of 1995, these characters literally saved me.
I could escape a family falling apart, a terrible relationship, all my missed opportunities, all my drying dreams—I could escape into a world of adventure, honor, wonder and hope—and I did.
One notebook became five, then ten, then it was silly to even try to keep them contained at all—clearly, they had much to say and do, more than I had ever imagined.
My mother, noting my new obsession, bought me my first real computer (I had one before that, an old Kaypro, but you could hardly save anything)—this was a real computer, with Windows 95, and Microsoft Word and everything!
I could write real stories on that.
I only had one major problem: I didn’t know how to type. So I checked out a library book (yes, a physical book) with a diagram of the fingering, and I taught myself—by typing up all 400 hand-written pages!
Life got better, or at least busier, but I never put away my wonderful scenes — I reworked them and reworked them, rewrote them, and revised them (continuing to add new material) until I had 200,000 words of disconnected storilettes (yes, I just made that up) — 500 megabytes in computer files, and a giant nightmare for trying to slap into a coherent story.
I’d not worried about it while writing, because to me, it was still an escape, not really ever intended to be a whole, unified story.
Those scenes never had to make sense as a larger work: they were for me.
Then, one day, after I’d gone back to school (I was done with being a barmaid), I found something on a scholarship website: a short-story contest. That was a lot more fun than another essay. I took one of the more coherent episodes, one I considered “backstory,” events before the main storyline began, edited it and sent it off.
To my utter and complete surprise, it won!
Real writers had read and liked my story!
Winning that contest was of the most amazing experiences of my life (but a tale for another post). For our purposes here, what that experience did was light a fire under me — maybe this could be something other than just my Happy Place. Maybe other people would enjoy these characters as much as I do — the way I’d devoured my favorite books all of my life.
Wow. Maybe I could be a writer. . .
Unfortunately, the Unbound had morphed, over the years, from the episodic space adventures of two friends into a many-headed hydra of scenes, plot plans, character sketches, drawings, timelines, chronologies, chapters, worlds built and worlds destroyed, and more. It was too chaotic to tackle, too insane to try to make sense out of. I was an adult student going back to college, trying to help take care of a newly-handicapped parent — both of which sucked my emotional and creative energy right out of me.
In short, life happened; eventually, I worked on it less and less as my academic life grew. I put my story away, filed in a digital shoebox, carried faithfully but secretly with me wherever I went, whatever I was doing, like a talisman.
One day, last year, I realized I hadn’t opened since 2009.
I determined to unearth it; to revisit those adventures, to revive my long-sleeping loves, and to, once and for all, tell their story.
The Unbound, however many novels, novellas, and short stories it may be, is their story.
Have you ever put away a dream?