I toyed with the idea of submitting to Machine of Death, vol. 2. Played with, as in, wanted to, realized the due date was in two days, and went to see Harry Potter instead.
It wasn’t for lack of ideas. The macabre is totally my wheelhouse.
The premise is a machine that predicts how you will die, a premise startling similar to one I had on my own many many years ago that I sometimes take out and brush off for a while.
My first instinct was to go dark. The title of each piece has to be the machine’s prediction and I thought “old age.” Not that I would allow someone a full and happy life only to die surrounded by loved ones. No no, my character (male, as I tend to favor male protagonists, for whatever reason [I’m a girl]) would toil away their life for some windmill like dream because, hey!, gonna live a long time right? Which is super, until they get paralyzed, or get some horrible disease, and then a long life is no comfort at all.
I actually wrote a draft. But… why should anyone care? It was a premise with no Characters.
So how about write something nice? With characters people will like or actually care about?
And my next thought was “alone.” And my character turned into a girl (interesting my subconscious, interesting) who was dying of some disease and surrounded by loved ones for real this time. The idea was, we all die alone.
Some major problems: I know next to nothing about death. Well, nobody does, but I’ve been lucky enough to not encounter much of it in my life. Same for diseases, and I felt like a poser writing about leukemia when I know nothing of the horrors of disease like that. Lastly, my version of the afterlife owed way too much to Terry Pratchett, to the point where I almost wrote Death as speaking in all caps.
I still stand by the ideas, I think they’re solid, but I just couldn’t think of why anyone would care to read them. Which, I feel, is just a little bit crucial.