Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Taking In A Lot During My Break

Thanks for the comments to my last post. Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels the need for a break every now and again. I think it's important to replenish the soul, restore the energy. Don't want to drain the creative well too much, but let it refill itself and then carry on. I'm certainly committed to my efforts as a writer and am not wavering on that in any way, but I've been very tired lately, aggregate stress mostly, and working too many hours every week. The break is helping.

During this time, though, I'm not exactly kicking back. Since I downloaded the Google books, now around 1.6 gigabytes worth, I've been reading about history, philosophy, culture, and language, and exploring a whole range of new-to-me sites about conlangs on the internet. I'm creating a few conlangs. I had already created one (the secret language of the Mystics), and it appears in my current novel. One of the new ones will appear now as a second conlang in my current novel (the language of the villagers, including the hero). The other new conlangs will go in future novels. I'm developing cultures with them, and ideas for future novels. Integrating lots and lots of ideas I've accumulated over the past several years.

So, I'm officially "on break" yet still I am working. The work I'm doing now, certainly still very creative, isn't the same kind as writing/editing. With all the reading I'm doing, and the sense of creating just for the joy of it, I'm replenishing my soul, and rekindling my enthusiasm, so much so that I do wonder whether I might really want to focus on being a fantasy writer, rather than a "gay/lesbian" writer by category, who happens to write a variety of types of fiction (fantasy, real-world suspense and drama, possibly mystery). I know we're supposed to pick one thing and stick to it, but that's hard to do for some of us who have serious interests in more than one area.

Anyway, I'm still on break, and am keeping my novel in mind, too, just not trying to push myself on it right now so I don't burn out. I still have another major push ahead of me to finish the complete revision, and I sense I'm resting up now so I'll be refreshed and ready to launch into it in the coming weeks. I may end up doing a complete rewrite with a shorter word count (ca. 70,000 words, instead of the current 120,000 words). I know the story very well by now, and have learned a lot in the past year of working on it, so much so that I think a rewrite might improve it in ways that editing can't. Whichever way I proceed, I want to be gung-ho and ready when I get back to work on it, and push forward at that time with a strong momentum and a rapid pace, a dash toward the finish line.

Happy Autumn,


Debra Young said...

Welcome back, Adrian!

"I know we're supposed to pick one thing and stick to it, but that's hard to do for some of us who have serious interests in more than one area."

Oh yeah? Who said so? I write what appeals to me, what captures my imagination, and if the story "feels" like a certain genre, that's how I cast it. Don't restrict yourself. Write anything you want. d:)

Susan Flemming said...

"So, I'm officially "on break" yet still I am working."

I wonder if writers ever really stop working. Oh we may not be seated at the computer typing away, but at least for me, some aspect of writing is always running in the background of my mind, no matter what else I may be doing.

Adrian Swift said...

I agree, Susan, it's hard for us creative types to ever really "turn off" the creativity. During my break I'm really just switching gears from the type of creating which feels like work to whatever feels like pure fun and inspires me to get back to "work".

I also agree, Debra, that we should write whatever we want, as a way to explore who we are and what's inside us, and see what we are capable of in our writing. I was referring to the advice I have found in many books on writing, echoed yet again in The Marshall Plan, which I read recently. The idea is once we are published our name is associated with a specific genre. Our names become trademarks in a way. When people pick up a Stephen King novel, they have certain expectations (horror). They don't expect it to read like a Harlequin romance. Totally unexpected, jarring, and undesired that would be to most fans of King (why am I sounding like Yoda all the sudden?).

Anyway, I do think it is good advice, and what I've read suggests it is necessary. Successful writers in one genre usually use a pseudonym to publish novels in another genre.

While we are discovering who we are, developing our skills, finding our voice, we need to experiment and write whatever we think would work for us, but once we find something that does, and that we feel passionate about, the advice out there seems to be that we should stick to that and excel at it.

I think I would have a lot to work with if I were to stick to fantasy, in terms of what I bring to it. Lots of background in travels and education that would help me come up with all sorts of interesting things if I focused on that type of fiction and ways to express real-world concerns in a fanstasy context. But, I also have other things I feel strongly that I should write, other areas where I also bring a lot to the table, so to speak.

Maybe I should finish up my fantasy novel and shop it around (which I'm planning to do regardless), and then write another novel in a totally different vein, and see what comes of it, and then compare the experiences and the quality of the work. Might help me to see what I really can do, what works best for me.

Otherwise, I think it's good to just write whatever I feel, as an exploration, a chance to learn and grow. But those other things wouldn't necessarily fit into the game plan if writers are inherently pidgeon-holed and publishers would not be receptive to them.

Anyway, just something to think about....

Footnote -- No pidgeons were harmed in the creation or use of that idiom.

Debra Young said...

Good points in your comments, and I think some writers, once they've established themselves, struggle against being pigeon-holed, but it's sometimes a losing battle because some publishers would rather a writer write in one genre or one particular kind of story. Actors have that situation with typecasting.

And then there are writers who work successfully in several genres. I think I'd like that. d:) Happy Autumn!