Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Writer Affirmation

With four published books under my belt and another coming out next year, I sometimes get caught in this nasty little cycle of thinking. It blocks my writing and makes me sad. It doesn't temper the words that tumble onto the page. Instead, it makes me fear them.

I've had my share of successes and failures. I'm afraid of neither, though I must admit to preferring successes.  With every book, I try to learn a new trick, deepen a skill or explore a facet of the world or humanity I'd not yet delved into. I do my research mostly by talking to people. Not about the book, but about their lives. It informs my writing and my characters.

See? I'm totally doing it again! I'm avoiding my nasty little cycle of thinking. It is a bit embarrassing, that's all. Once in a while, you see, I wish I wrote like someone else. Doesn't matter who, it's this strange little writer's envy that I believe most writers suffer from. It's all fine and dandy if it pushes one to write more, write better, be truer to their work and themselves, but it's downright inconvenient when said envy becomes a type of writer's block. Because now improving to be better isn't good enough. Changing completely to be someone else seems in order.

It's a silly thought, but it's there.

Regardless, as I keep getting stuck in this stupid little cycle, I've started repeating why I write. I reach back down into my rosy adolescent self (conveniently still parked in my head) and I recall wasting precious hours by the smelly river, writing poorly constructed sentences with coloured ink in a sparkly notebook. I reach back to her because she wrote without fear even though, and she knew this so I'm not crushing her, she totally and completely sucked. But she loved writing and found a mission in it.

So here, for my adolescent self and to remind my current 33-year old self, is my writing affirmation.
  1. I write for fun. If it's not fun for me, it won't be fun for my readers. Heck, even if my readers will think it's fun, I don't care. I want to have fun too.  So there.
  2. I write adventure stories. I have visions of writing sweeping epics with vast Canadian landscapes, but I love a good adventure story so much it gets me up ridiculously early in the mornings to write. 
  3. I like blowing things up. And killing people. I really do.  Perhaps up to an unhealthy level, in fact. (Note to self: explore potential psychotic behaviour.)
  4. My characters are heroes. Not because they're born that way, but because they choose to become that way. I sincerely think we all need a bit more heroism in our lives. Or good sarcasm. Which can be heroic, in some cases.
  5. Love is good. Love is wonderful. But the day my heroines give up everything for a man (or a girl), there had better be a wake-up call later on. I think we need more heroes and I think we need fewer blind "I love you and can't live without you" messages. 
  6. I love colour. I write with colour. If my scene feels bland, it goes. I need vibrancy and shades as deep as the heart of a ruby.
  7. Tension.  Oh, how I love you, tension. I like stressing people out. If my characters are not broken messes halfway through my book, I haven't done my job.
  8. I outline poorly. That's right. I outline some, get ready, then cast it to the wind as I get lost in the story. I don't look back. 
  9. I write fast. I'm not the "sitting around gazing out the window while pondering the world" type of writer. I'm the "OMG the next few chapters are so freaking cool I can't wait to get to them and my fingers are cramping up I'm writing so fast!" type of writer.  
  10. I'm also a mean editor of my work. Goes hand in hand with shabby planning and fast writing, if you ask me.
  11. I like the awesomeness of discovering my world and characters, of being swept away by a plot twist or character, of falling in and out of love, of weeping uncontrollably when a character dies because the story demands it, but it doesn't make it any easier.
  12. I re-iterate point one, because that's the most important. I have to love my story. I have to itch to get back to it. I have to want to write it so badly it keeps me up at night. 
That's who I am as a writer. For better or for worse, that's who I'll stay. I don't know where it'll eventually take me, but when I look back on this breathtaking journey, I want to be able to say that I had fun and that I remained true to my vision.

The rest, as they say, is all explosions and details.