Unfinished Business

Weirdly, in the aftermath of running a successful Kickstarter to get a project I’ve been working on for years, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about unfinished projects sitting on my hard drive. How for every file and folder that lies dormant on the computer, I will soon have something that is somewhat “complete”.

It was due to these incomplete projects that I created the Gilded Age the way I did in the first place. Too many comic book projects had gotten started only to fizzle out. It was very much the idea that the Gilded Age might only last 1 issue and I had a full 4 issue story-arc planned. What do you do with that? How do you get around the fact that 1 issue could very well be the only thing anyone ever sees?

In fact, there was a while there where Egg and I would email back and forth about 1 issue comic ideas because that was something we could see actually being done and finished. It was something concrete whereas the many talks about 50 issue comic storylines might (only might) have been a little beyond any of us.

Yet, even with those constraints, so many of them never saw the light of day.

And I’ve been thinking about them.

They say you are supposed to Kill Your Darlings as a writer. Basically, when you are writing, even if you love a scene or a paragraph or even just a sentence – you have to be willing to cut those just as easily as anything else.

And there is also some saying about always moving forward (I think). If something doesn’t work out, then toss it aside and start on the next thing. Something about ideas not being precious. That any creator worth their salt can come up with 100 more… and then 100 more.

Yet, I look through the files and remember things I’d forgotten. I see that there was potential within these projects. I see that there could still be potential within so many Lost ideas.

Maybe it is that Kickstarter success that suddenly has shown me a finish line is actually possible? Has it got me convinced there might be a way to bring those things back to life in some form or fashion?

It’s not about the business of the pieces… not yet at least. That will come. The questions about what does this particular thing being brought out of storage actually accomplish. What if by focusing on these older toys, I don’t give enough focus to newer ones?

I’m caught in a weird time loop of my own doing. Lamenting what should have been out a decade ago if only I’d have pushed the right buttons. How I could have been further along whatever path I currently make my way down.

But mistakes have been made along the way.

So what do you do about those old things? I’m a collector. I don’t throw things out without good reason. I believe that ideas are very precious, but I know that more will always be forthcoming. I could never just be rid of them. Do they represent too much thought, too much work, too much… growth?

Without each word, line, paragraph, half-finished script, or even finished scripts that never became comics… my current work wouldn’t exist. Without every pain of trying to pull or get pulled across a finish line, my couple of books, The Gilded Age, and a handful of short stories would not exist (or at least they would not exist in the way they do today).

So I don’t push delete on these things. I don’t erase them from my mind or my flash drive. I don’t purge the emails of random thoughts and nuggets of storylines… for they offer me a glimpse at all the paths I’ve been on until today.

Sure, they may frustrate me that they didn’t get there, but they might have helped me get there.


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

32 Titles for Books I’ll Never Write

Scorched Manuscript

The pretty much self-explanatory, mostly sarcastic list of book titles I’ll probably never get around to writing:

1,001 Questions for Humanity (I already did 101. But 1,001? That’s a lot of questions.)

The Life of J Edward – An Autobiography (The book absolutely no one would read.)

Love in the Time of Ebola

Fast Times at Lilburn Middle School

Lego Wars (A children’s novel…inspired by my son’s massive floor battles)

Why No Woman Should Ever Wear Granny Panties

The Dark Behind the Darkest Darkness – Book 9 of Tyrants of the Dead (Please. Make it stop.)

 Marriage in the 21st Century (As written by the least qualified person…ever)

Leaving in the 8th (Your baseball team will lose)

 The 2015 Chicago Bears – A Tale of Triumph

Sarcasm for Dummies

50 Great Atlanta Restaurants (There’re only about 25)

Honey, Where are my Pants?

The Science of Sugar Babies

Undead Davy Crockett (His hat’s undead, too)

 The Cynics’ Handbook – Hating the World in 12 Easy Steps

More Gummi Bears! – Baking for Four Year Olds

The Couch Goddess

Dating Married Women – A Beginner’s Guide

The Bishop…and Other Made-Up Sex Moves

Nudity Required – The Three-Dollar Challenge

Why Men Always Need a Bigger TV

When 10 Minutes Means 2 Hours

The Desperate Housewives of Flag Football Players

My Life as the Only Unbaptized Kid in Catholic School (This one’s actually true)

 Zombie Hookers (Why should vampires get all the sexy?)

 Histrionics – The Science of Channing Tatum Worship

Why Almost Everyone Should Make a Sex Tape

Put Down the F’ing Phone and Raise your F’ing Kid (Another one I actually do want to write)

Procrastination Nation

199 Excuses for Calling in Sick

Under the Radar – The Subtle Glory of NOT Caring About Politics

That’s it.

 I’m done.

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera