Where Has It Gone?
I used to write stories and publish them on the Net during my early teen years. It was when the age of the Internet was beginning, when I was probably the only person in class who has an Internet connection, when half of my classmates probably don't know what the Internet is, when I myself don't fully understand it, in the same manner that I didn't understand what a computer is when I was five, but I enjoyed playing around with it anyway.
Back then, websites don't have flashy, colourful stuff. Usually it's black on grey, and you make things interesting using larger or smaller serif fonts. Images and stills were rare. Modems were 14.4 kbps. And back then, there were websites which allow children around the world to write stories and publish them.
And boy did I write.
It started with one website for kids, with story-writing being one of its facilities. The first story I wrote was basically a rehash of Independence Day, a film I saw and liked so much that it stayed in my mind for months. (And in hindsight I realised it was a turning point in my life – it was the movie that made me think of the world in terms of film reality, and laid the seeds for my desire to get into filmmaking.)
I can't remember how I felt about it, but I guess I enjoyed it, coz I went on to write many more stories for the next three years; eventually thinking about the stories would take up hours of my time. But it all came very naturally, no struggle, no accompanying headache or migraine, no agonising over writers' block – if it doesn't come I just don't write.
And very interesting stories they were. Usually I feel like writing a story because of its high concept – story about the longest train in the world and the inevitable disaster, story about a plane carrying an airborne and extremely virulent virus forcing it not to land (yet land it must when fuel runs out), a story about a hero trying to stop a terrorist who possesses incredible weapons such as sound bombs and asteroid bombs from completely wiping out the US, a (very long) story about the downfall of Atlantis which involves the entire continent being flipped up into the sky before sinking (and managing to justify that logically). Sometimes I feel like writing a story because I could play around with the details – a ghost story where the investigators have benevolent ghosts to help them solve cases, kids escaping from a haunted house purely by cooperation through some of the weirdest stuff to ever come out of my mind, the (unfinished) sequel to that when one of the kids grow up to go to college, Agatha Christie-like murder mysteries, and so on.
The grammar was bad (even though I took pride at having the best standard of English compared to everyone I knew back then), and the descriptions were childish. The dialogues were very immature where everything said seemed to be exposition.
But hell, they were really imaginative stuff. I really enjoyed writing them coz I thought they were good, interesting stuff. Things other people won't have thought of.
What I want to ask is … what the hell happened?
Why can't I tap into that part of my brain anymore? I sit here now trying to write the damn script and I have absolutely no idea. That doesn't make sense! It used to come so easily. I'll come up with something, then twist it and mould it until it looks out-of-shape enough yet fitting as part of the storyline. Now I couldn't even come up with something – everything feels bland, cliched. Everything that comes out of my mind gets shot down. They're all so normal, the ideas I came up with.
I made very sure that I want to do this story right – I will not make the film if I am not happy that the story is good enough, imaginative enough. At the same time I don't know what to write. Maybe I shouldn't do it?
This makes me feel so stupid. I marvel at myself at a younger age for being able to write interesting stories – I no longer understood how I did it. It's like us modern-day humans staring back at the ancient Egyptians, wondering, can they really be more advanced than us? The bloody thing sitting at Giza is very hard to ignore.