Rime by Tim Lebbon
I’ve always loved the epic poem ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, and much as I’d love to claim it was from a love of classical poetry … in truth, it’s all down to Iron Maiden. I remember being in school when their Powerslave album came out, featuring their song based on the poem, and every day we’d pile into school and ask our mates how many times we’d listened to it the night before. Their song led me to the poem. I still love both poem and song (in fact, I listened to it only yesterday), and for a long time I’ve considered writing a science fiction novella inspired by both.
The chance came when I decided to try writing something longhand.
Now, anyone who’s seen my handwriting will already be guffawing at the mere idea of me picking up a pen. Sometimes even I have a problem reading my own writing (true … and a problem when I randomly scribble a story idea down and then attempt to retun to it later). But I’d been thinking for a long time about how writing something longhand, instead of sitting at a computer, might change the creative process. So armed with a couple of new notebooks––and like most writers I love empty, fresh notebooks––I left the house and hit the cafes.
Rime probably cost me a hundred pounds in coffee and cakes to write, but it was a fun process. The notebooks filled quickly, the story flowed, and I sensed that my writing style was somehow streamlined simply through the process of brain-finger-pen instead of brain-keyboard. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t constantly going back and correcting what I’d written (I’m a 4 fingered typist, which necessitates frequent pauses to correct what I’ve typed. An ongoing editing process, but perhaps also a distraction).
When it was finished, I left the novella for a while and moved on to other projects. This is also something I don’t often do anymore, and in this case it did the story some good. Typing it up––and revising and editing as I did so––was a revealing process, and I’ve ended up with a novella that not only is unlike most things I write, but which also makes me very proud.
I hope you’ll check it out!