Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Take it from the top

As with any type of writing it is often the beginning that proves to be the most difficult. This is no less true for this first post as it is for anything else I have tried to write. There is this current of potential that that you have to fight to fulfill. Worlds are lurking behind this big open sheet of emptiness, and the idea of revealing them is a terrible responsibility. Most writers that I've talked to about it overcome it in different ways from extensive outlining to having specific conditions under which they write. Ultimately whatever it might be, it boils down to discipline and routine, which brings me to why I decided to start this blog. National Novel Writing Month is looming, and I've resolved to make some changes to my habits in the hopes of becoming a better writer.

In the past I've been a discovery or "seat of your pants" writer. I would come up with a some setting notes, a list of characters, and a basic scenario, toss them into a blender, and be delighted to see what came out in the end. My first swing at NaNoWriMo was a success by the standards of the event and written this very way. Every night after work I would sit at my computer and excitedly hammer out a couple thousand words until I crossed that fifty thousand word threshold. In the end, though, I wasn't left with an actually complete piece of fiction. The problem, it turns out,  with this type of writing is that eventually the thrill of discovering the story wears thin. The longer it goes the more difficult it becomes. It was like the drive to finish flowed out into those early outpouring of words. Once that happened progress on my story could only come in fits. I would wait for the muse to come while idly staring at my monitor. This year, I'm determined to do something about that. In the two months I have left leading up to NaNoWriMo I'm going to ruminate on writing in this blog and work through my own take on prewriting with whoever happens to read this thing. I'm hesitant to lay out a schedule for others to see. The pressure of having to meet those external deadlines has stymied my writing in the past. I will say, for now, that I plan to make multiple posts a week and leave it at that.

With that preamble out of the way, I suppose I should explain some of what drives me as a writer so you can decide if the trip is going to be worth it. Fair warning this might involve me talking about some driving beliefs that I usually refrain from sharing in such a public forum. As far as the meat and potatoes of content goes, I think from the title of the blog it should be obvious that one of my big interests as a writer is the triumvirate of science fiction, fantasy, and horror with a bigger focus on the sci-fi and the fantasy. There is something about the trappings of magic, dragons, and ray-guns that appeals to me. Some may look down on it as escapism, but the ability to take someone away from the banality of the modern world is a powerful one. Despite my fondness for the classics, though, I'm usually looking to push things in slightly different directions. You won't see the much repeated Tolkenisms here, if I can help it.  I've always been drawn to the adventure and wonder that is so often intrinsic to these types of stories, but retreading those well worn steps doesn't strike me as the best way to continue to capture those feelings.

When it comes to the deeper layers of story telling, like most other writers I have things I want to say beyond just telling a story. There are themes that call out to me and I hope my readers notice in my words. Things like what power does to someone as a person, mankind's relationship with faith, and how being part of a larger group defines a person as a whole. Science fiction and fantasy writing's extraordinary elements make it ripe for weaving in deeper meaning and allegory more so than other genres. I'm not saying that other genres can't express these things, but I certainly think they are much more tied up in the very essence of the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

The ability to both inspire wonder while also harboring a deeper meaning is something that I think we need to hold close. In the modern world it is so easy to become jaded and cocksure. Stories are a tool that can help us regain that child like awe, and remind us that there is so much more out there than we can learn. There are things in the universe greater than us and beyond us that we cannot hope to understand but should always strive to. The more I reflect the more I think that this is what drives me as a writer, what I want the world to get out of my writing as a whole. I want my daughter and her children and their children to look to what I write and be inspired about what is possible. It is an important task that I can only hope I can live up to.

Now that you've gotten a little glimpse into what some of my motivations and interests are as a writer, the next time you hear from me I'll continue the story of what I've written so far over my past three attempts at NaNoWriMo and some of my thoughts on how I got there, what went right, and what went wrong. I might also post another post on some of my bigger writing inspiration and where I have taken my cues on how to write. Once we have all of those topics covered it will be time to blaze a trail  of story prep. I hope you decide to come along for it all.

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