Marc Laidlaw

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Marc Laidlaw


My Progress

UPDATE #7 (7/25/17):


I have slowed down considerably, having deep second (or by now fifth or sixth generation) doubts about the entire project. Really hit a bit of a conceptual reset on it a few weeks back, which threw me for a loop. I’m trying to pull out of it by seeing how far this new tack will go. Perhaps it’s unsustainable. The write-a-thon was invaluable in getting me to force myself over this hump, which awaited me in any event. Months ahead will tell if there’s enough inherent value in the project to keep it going. I am glad to have reached this new position from which to evaluate the project as a whole anyway.


Here’s a bit of the deeply-conflicted latest:

“The days now passed as peaceably as before, with the sole alteration that joy had taken place of sadness in the countenances of my friends. Safie was always gay and happy; she and I improved rapidly in the knowledge of language, so that in two months I began to comprehend most of the words uttered by my protectors. Their terminology remained utterly lacking in references to monsters, but no matter, for I still had access to endless internet catalogs, although I had lost my enthusiasm for random midnight searches for obscure kaiju.”



UPDATE #6 (7/10/17):


From the opening of Chapter 11:
“It is with considerable difficulty that I, a monster, remember the original era of my being; all the events of that period appear confused and indistinct. A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, a monster, and I, a monster, saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I, a monster, learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses. By degrees, I (as previously mentioned, a monster), remember, a stronger light pressed upon my nerves, so that I, emphatically a monster, was obliged to shut my monstrous eyes. Darkness then came over me (variously defined herein as a creature, monster, etc.) and troubled me, but hardly had I felt this when, by opening my eyes (monster eyes!), as I now suppose, the light poured in upon me again. I walked and, I believe, to the best of a monster’s ability to believe in things that were not monsters, descended, but I presently found a great alteration in my sensations, although they still remained of course the sensations of a monster. Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid in the manner of a monster such as myself. The light became more and more oppressive to me (no idea how it might have affected anyone who was not a monster), and the heat wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where I, even though a monster, could receive shade. This was the free-until-that-moment-of-monsters forest near Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side of a brook resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by hunger and thirst, which it might surprise you to hear a monster can be tormented by. This roused me from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees or lying on the ground. I slaked my thirst at the brook, and then lying down, was overcome by sleep, or whatever passes for it when you are, as I am, a monster.”


UPDATE #5 (7/8/17):


I have slowed substantially, but getting back to it now. A bit from the beginning of Chapter 10:



After a morning spent screaming in horror, I spent the following day roaming through the valley. I stood beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down from the summit of the hills to barricade the valley, screaming. The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial nature was broken only by the brawling waves or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche or the cracking, reverberated along the mountains, of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands, plus my screaming. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving through my screams. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling, and although they did not remove my grief, or stop my screams, they subdued and tranquillized it. In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month, and my screaming. I retired to rest at night, still screaming; my slumbers, as it were, waited on and ministered to by the assemblance of grand shapes which I had contemplated during the day. They congregated round me; the unstained snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine, the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds–they all gathered round me and bade me be at peace. When the eagle screamed, I smiled and finally slept, as if nature had confirmed that all living creatures were as afraid as I was of monsters.
UPDATE #4 (7/2/17):


Not much to report. A few new paragraphs for Chapter 9, beginning thus:
“Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul both of hope and fear. Space Vampires (also known as Mind Parasites) are admittedly near the top of the list, but still, the dead calmness thing is officially pinned at the top. Justine died, she rested, and I was alive. The blood flowed freely in my veins, free of miniaturized nuclear submarines in search of tumorous targets, but a weight of despair and remorse pressed on my heart which nothing could remove. Sleep fled from my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, and not a generic one from a James Wan movie, for I had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more, much more (I persuaded myself) was yet behind. Yet my heart overflowed with kindness and the love of virtue. I had begun life with benevolent intentions and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice and make myself useful to my fellow beings. Now all was blasted; instead of that serenity of conscience which allowed me to look back upon the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence to gather promise of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures such as no language can describe, except perhaps in the voice of Pinhead.
“This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had perhaps never entirely recovered from the first shock it had sustained. I shunned the face of man (must I mention Pinhead again?); all sound of joy or complacency was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation–deep, dark, deadly, spooky-as-a-spooky-skeleton deathlike solitude.”
UPDATE #3 (6/30/17):


Chapter 8 has been massaged into something monstrous.


We passed a few sad hours until eleven o’clock, when the trial was to commence. My father and the rest of the family being obliged to attend as witnesses, I accompanied them to the court. During the whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture only partially attributable to a self-administered rectal pear. It was to be decided whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would cause the death of two of my fellow beings: one a smiling babe full of innocence and joy, the other far more dreadfully murdered, with every aggravation of infamy that could make the murder memorable in horror. Justine also was a girl of merit and possessed qualities which promised to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated in an ignominious grave with a cat-door that allowed access to famished ghouls, and I the cause! A thousand times rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine, but I was absent when it was committed, and such a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me.


Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as, torn by remorse, horror, and despair, not to mention the mephitic talons of a giant vulture,  I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts.


UPDATE #2 (6/29/17):

Finally, creeping out from under jet-lag, I sat down and reworked chapter 7 of Frankenstein. As evidence, here are the first and last paragraphs:
“My dear Victor,

“You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix the date of your return to us; and I was at first tempted to write only a few lines, merely mentioning the day on which I should expect you. But that would be a cruel kindness, and I dare not do it, and more than I dare descend into a moaning crypt blindfolded and bare of foot. What would be your surprise, my son, when you expected a happy and glad welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears and wretchedness? And how, Victor, can I relate our misfortune? Absence cannot have rendered you callous to our joys and griefs; and how shall I inflict pain on my long absent son? I wish to prepare you for the woeful news, but I know it is impossible; even now your eye skims over the page to seek the words which are to convey to you the horrible tidings, and also those which satisfy the guaranteed density of monstrosities, which, let’s face it, are the main reason this particular phrase exists.”
“Dearest niece,” said my father, “dry your tears. If she is, as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws, and the activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of partiality. And recall that even Kamoebas the Space Amoeba could be defeated by Godzilla when he stuck his neck out.”

Here’s the very last paragraph of the WIP. I look forward to posting fresh new paragraphs as the Write-a-thon gets underway:

Henry rejoiced in my gaiety, and sincerely sympathised in my feelings: he exerted himself to amuse me, while he expressed the sensations that filled his soul. The resources of his mind on this occasion were truly astonishing: his conversation was full of imagination; and very often, in imitation of the Persian and Arabic writers, he invented tales of wonderful fancy and passion, leaving out the sanity-blasting stuff entirely and never once quipping or even miming “Tekeli-li.” At other times he repeated my favourite poems, or drew me out into arguments, which he supported with great ingenuity. We returned to our college on a Sunday afternoon: the peasants were dancing, and every one we met appeared gay and happy. My own spirits were high, and I bounded along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity. It was almost impossible to imagine anything having to do with monsters, let alone devise a way to slip one into this passage.



I have posted on Twitter an image of my Scrivener page, just to mark my progress as the write-a-thon begins.


The last time I did substantive work on the book was ahead of a reading at the KGB Bar in June of 2016, where I read the first chapter aloud. If you’re interested, you can listen to it here:


I think as a long-term goal, an audiobook is a good one. Some of the jokes only really come through with a fake English accent.


About Me

Writing Sample




Chapter 1: The Early, Monstrous Years


I am by birth a Genevese, and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics, and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business, plus that one time he defeated a Beholder merely by brandishing a writ. He passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband and the father of a family.
As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his character, I cannot refrain from relating them, with this flashlight held under my chin to throw my visage into terrifying relief. One of his most intimate friends was a merchant who, from a flourishing state, fell, through numerous mischances, into poverty. This man, whose name was Beaufort, was of a proud and unbending disposition and could not bear to live in poverty and oblivion in the same country where he had formerly been distinguished for his rank and magnificence. Having paid his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner, he retreated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne-on-the-Styx, where he lived unknown and in wretchedness. My father loved Beaufort with the truest friendship and was deeply grieved by his retreat in these unfortunate circumstances. He bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them. He lost no time in endeavouring to seek him out, with the hope of persuading him to begin  the world again through his credit and assistance.
Beaufort had taken effectual measures to conceal himself, and it was ten months before my father discovered his abode in a haunted shack. Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the house, which was situated in a mean street near the Reuss. But when he entered, misery and despair alone welcomed him. Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money from the wreck of his fortunes, but it was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months, and in the meantime he hoped to procure some respectable employment in a merchant’s house. The interval was, consequently, spent in inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his mind
that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertion apart from that of lifting the remote to switch from Creature Features to a Twilight Zone Marathon.

What I Write

For a couple decades, I worked as a writer in the game industry, helping create the Half-Life games, as well as the recent Valve version of Dota.


Prior to that, I wrote mainly prose. Lots of short stories and half a dozen novels. In 2016, I self-assembled my stories into a Kindle-only collection called 400 Boys and 50 More. My novels are also available for Kindle in self-published editions.


Twitter Handle


Write-a-thon Goals

Writing Goals

For a couple of years, I have been tinkering with an enhanced version of a classic novel, which I call (usually) MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, NOW WITH LOTS OF MONSTERS. I have been remiss in working on it regularly, and there’s a long way to go. I intend to use the Writeathon to make regular substantial progress and ideally even finish it. I will post chunks of the work as I proceed, since it is somewhat impervious to spoilers.

Fundraising Goals

I used to visit the Clarion West workshop once a summer and talk with the students for an afternoon about writing–specifically, writing for games. Since I don’t live in the area anymore, and don’t write for games, this seems like an appropriate way to contribute toward Clarion West’s ongoing success.


Disclaimer: I am not a Clarion West student, never attended or taught there. I just think it’s a wonderful program. Many of my friends and favorite writers have benefited from it. A few of these have even gone on to success in the game industry!