The Fall Of The Hammer has been in the works for — let's do some fast mental math — about twenty-five years now. Give or take. This breaks one of my little rules, which is "Don't keep a project alive that is from a time when you were essentially a different person." But what it was way back when has essentially nothing to do with what it is now, and not only does that allow an end run around the rule, it's ultimately for the best.
Of everything I amassed for the original story, about all that remains is a single piece of the original premise, now existing in an entirely different form. The first time around, I had no coherent vision for how to make good on the idea. No characters worth mentioning, either. All I had was a set of open-ended situations that led into each other, and that promise far more than they could ever deliver. Frustrated, with some several dozen thousand words written but with no clear way to make sense of what I had, I shelved the idea and went on to other things, which I could at least complete.
Some ideas stick with me like a chronic toothache. Hammer was one of them. (There's another, entitled Perfect Skin, that is coming far closer to being ripe and dates back even further, but don't look for it anytime soon.) What it was waiting for, as with many of the things I skip and switch between as I try to find out how to bring them to fruition, was the right level of my life experience and creative expertise. I could not have written that book 25 years ago. In fact, I find I can barely write it now, but at least now I have some edge I didn't before.
I've long felt it's not healthy to nurse an idea too far outside of its window of opportunity. Some things you can only write when you're fifteen, and some things you can only write when you're thirty. And some of the things you can only write when you're fifteen shouldn't be written when you're thirty — not in the sense that they're the things of youth to be put away, but in the sense that they are redolent of a lack of experience. Hammer was like that when I first came back to it; it was the product of someone who didn't have the requisite experience to make it worthy. I took what was worthy from it, which was very little, but enough, and moved on.