I'm something of an aspiring writer, although it would, in fact, be more truthful to say that being an aspiring writer is something I aspire to. The writing moods come and go every few months, and when they're here, they are fierce. In a way, it's a bit like having a period, as at these times, entering my room unannounced while the keys are clacking means risking life and limb (The roommates sign legal waivers to this effect).
Since this magical time is again approaching, It seemed a good idea to talk a little about the creative process and how it applies to the collection of neuroses that is, as Mademoiselle Piggy might say, Moi.
It was a lot easier coming up with Ideas when I was younger, because I was a lot more interested in Fantasy. With Fantasy, pretty much anything is possible as long as you set certain rules and remember to stick with them. A wizard can shake a Deus Ex Machina out of his staff at the Hour of Oblivion, but it has to make sense in the world even if the world is crazy and nonsensical- Hell, especially if the world is crazy and nonsensical.
I think this consistency is one of the reasons that Fantasy appeals to a lot of younger people, as well as the stories' general tendency to be plot-driven rather than character driven- that is, Harold The Barbarian is too busy cleaving Orc skulls to spend much time addressing his aggression issues, or the Madonna/Whore complex that keeps him bouncing between Princess Snowdrop and Vulva The Dark Enchantress.
As a teen, I really enjoyed this focus on action: there'a something to be said for being swept along with the hero to all sorts of fabulously treacherous locales. Gradually though, somewhere between 18 and 21, I realized that I really didn't give a shit about whether or not Unlikely Hero from Bumblefuck-On-The-Shire overcame whatever set of Impossible Odds he had to in order to achieve his wonderful Destiny.
Unlikely Hero, it often seems, is so rarely very interesting outside his extraordinary circumstances. Take for example, LOTR's Aragorn and Frodo: These two guys exemplify the classic Fantasy Hero types, but would you want to have a Beer-And-Bullshit Session with either of them?
This disenchantment put my big (in High School anyway) dreams of Authorship on ice. I had the makings of two or three complete sagas (like bad things, fantasy stories always come in threes) ready to go, but no desire of actually sit down in front of Word and make the long trek to Mordor, so to speak. Imagine taking a cross-country roadtrip in a minibus full of boring people you can't stand. Yeah.
At the same time I'm not so deluded that I dream of writing the great Canadian novel. For starters, (as I mentioned to a good friend the other night) I absolutely, with very few exceptions, despise Canadian literature. Additionally, I feel too young, too uneducated, and too devoid of life experience to say anything suitably life-altering (or at least, self-important).
So what's a girl to do? The answer came care of this fellow here, and to a lesser extent, this guy, who you are much more likely to recognize.
Peter S Beagle, who you might recognize as the author of The Last Unicorn convinced me that genre writing need not be juvenile escapist fare. This is a man who was compared with Tom Wolfe and Kurt Vonnegut until his decision to write about Unicorns got a lot of literary panties in a twist. Magic and the supernatural are a big part of his books, but manage to seem less interesting than the characters, who run the gamut from cynical teenage girls to middle-aged Jewish widows, warrior monks, storytelling pirates, wizards, possessed cats and even beleagered stage managers. It takes a consummate storyteller to be able to write convincingly as such characters without seeming to speak through them.
I decided somewhere between The Inkeeper's Song and A Fine And Private Place that I wanted to do as he does, to write funny, human stories about interesting people in extraordinary circumstances.
Now it's just a matter of doing as was so eloquently said by Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith:
There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.